The Blog

Take the Kids to the National Museum of the American Indian

Guest blogger Thomas Hoffmann gives us an overview of an important NYC museum.

A visit to the National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan is a great weekend outing for the entire family, and an important part of every American’s education.

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ABOUT THE MUSEUM :   Part of the Smithsonian Museum, the largest complex of museums in the world, the National Museum of the American Indian explores the diversity of the Native people of the Americas.

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WHERE IT IS: It is located at 1 Bowling Green, near the southern tip of Manhattan, roughly on the same spot as Fort Amsterdam, the original center of the settlement of New Amsterdam, and Government House, the mansion built as an official residence for the President of the United States, but which was never occupied. The Custom House was named to commemorate Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and its first Secretary of the Treasury. 1 Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004

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The architectural beauty of the museum is reason enough to visit all on its own. But of course, you’ve come here for one of the greatest collections of Native American heritage.

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WHAT AGE IS IT APPROPRIATE FOR?  Children of all ages, though you should exercise discretion regarding some of the exhibits.


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WHY YOU SHOULD GO: The museum offers fascinating permanent and temporary exhibitions about the lifeways, history and art of indigenous peoples throughout the Western Hemisphere through artifacts, film,and performance. And this fantastic museum charges no admission and  is 100% free!

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WHEN YOU SHOULD GO: Open 10 AM–5 PM daily, Thursdays to 8 PM. Open 10 AM–5 PM on Thanksgiving; closed on December 25. Admission is free.

WHAT’S IN IT FOR THE KIDS

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The most essential exhibit to visit for young visitors(or the young at heart) is imagiNATIONS Activity Center on the lower level. It’s open daily from 10:30 to 4pm. Guests can test their balance on a real kayak. There are a number of computer games including “The Crop-etition Challenge” which is a farming computer game simulation.  This game rewards choosing cooperation over competition. Guests can build igloos, experience hearing underwater( without getting wet or really going underwater).

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IF YOU GO, BE SURE TO SEE:

The second level has an impressive circular exhibit Infinity of Nations which is about Native Americans who have served in the military.  Fans of Windtalkers can view stories of “real-life windtalkers.” Windtalkers were people who were used to speak in language based on Native American language. This code was designed to make communication immune to Axis fighters listening in during World War II. This exhibit also includes stories and images of Native Americans who were assimilated into Western Culture and served in the military.

While going through this rotating hallway, there is a door to another exhibit called “Infantry of Nations” which feature the weapons, headbands, and symbols of Native people of Americas. Also located on this level are the East and West Galleries about the civilizations of the West Indies.  Yet another exhibit on the upper level is Native Americans Light and Sound. This section includes “Raven brings the light” and other exhibits that explore Native Americans in the digital age.



MUSEUM STORE HIGHLIGHTS

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The gift shop is quite impressive. Native American music plays while guests emerge themselves in a array of Native American products, including.

  • CDS

  • Christmas ornaments

  • Headbands

  • Stuffed animals

  • Jewelry(real and fake).

  • There are drums, medicine wheels, handbags even jars of salsa!!!



HOW TO GET THERE:   

The National Museum of the American Indian–New York, is located on the south side of Bowling Green, in lower Manhattan, adjacent to the northeast corner of Battery Park.


Subway

4 & 5 trains to Bowling Green

1 train to Rector Street or South Ferry

R (& W on weekdays) trains to Whitehall Street

J & Z trains to Broad Street

2 & 3 trains to Wall Street

Bus

M5, M15, M20


Heather Miller