History of the American Indian Museum in New York

Today, the National Museum of American Indians has three branches. The main one is in Washington. However, the history of this museum begins with the establishment of its first branch in New York. It has a name that indicates that it is not just a branch of the National Museum but the Centre of George Gustav Heye. In this article, we will find out why it is so and what interesting secrets this museum keeps in its long and rich history.

American Indian Museum: origins

An American businessman named Heye was interested in Native American history. In 1897, he decided to purchase a commemorative shirt that the Navajo Indians had made long ago. It was made of deerskin and was beautiful and finely done. However, later, Heye decided that several more items would fit his collection. After a year, he started buying wholesale items that were made by Indians. This is the story of the first major Native American collection, the Museum of Heye, in 1916.

However, Hay soon realized that his collection should be made public. That is why, a few years later, his young museum began to receive a wider range of visitors in 1922. Each of them could easily get acquainted with the culture of representatives of ancient civilizations. At the same time, Heye himself was the director of this museum until 1956.

Establishing the museum’s heritage

In 1990, members of the United States Congress decided that Hay’s collection should be nationalized. After that, the museum was given to the head of the Smithsonian Society. In 1994, the Museum of Heye became a branch of the National Museum of Native American Peoples. Today, this collection is housed within the old walls of the New York Customs Service, which is located in Manhattan. This structure is the embodiment of history in all its splendor. It was built in 1907, and the great architect Cass Gilbert eas created its design.

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National Museum of American Indians

The appearance of the museum will surely please you. Among its decorations are its columns and relief compositions, as well as white marble inside. You can see beautiful paintings on the ceiling. However, the most amazing detail of this museum is its collection, which includes more than 800 thousand items. Among the exhibits of this museum are many artifacts that belonged to Indians living in Canada and Alaska, on the grounds of Latin as well as Central America.

The paintings that the Indians painted are another interesting factor, as well as traditional costumes, weapons, and masks for all sorts of rituals. There are some real scalps in this collection, as well as items that belonged to such famous Indian chiefs as Sitting Bull and Geronimo.

This museum cooperates with various organizations and even film studios. This is why some exhibits may be familiar to Indian film lovers. On the territory of this museum, concerts of traditional Indian music and various cultural events take place. Also, a special cafe functions there, which offers its visitors various dishes of Indian cuisine. There is also a shop with souvenirs in which every visitor can buy a beautiful trinket for memory.

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