National Museum of the American Indian

National Museum of The American Indian, Manhattan NYC

The National Museum of the American Indian in New York City educates visitors about the rich heritage of Native people of the Americas. Occupying two levels in the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, the museum has an extensive collection of artifacts, documents, and multimedia relating to various tribes in the modern-day United States and other territories of the Western Hemisphere.

This museum is officially affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution and dedicated to its mission of increasing and diffusing knowledge. The museum in New York serves as one of three locations of the National Museum of the American Indian, with another museum in Washington, D.C., and a research and collections center in Maryland.


Situated on the second floor of the National Museum of the American Indian, the Rotunda serves as the main entry point. This charming space leads to the East, West and South Galleries. Some of the items that are displayed in these galleries include authentic accessories, tools, clothing and ritual objects that originate from across the Western Hemisphere, including present-day Mexico, the United States, the Caribbean region and Canada. There are also photos and videos that highlight the recent history of Native tribes.

The first level of the museum includes the Diker Pavilion for Native Arts and Culture. Having a semicircular layout, this venue currently includes life-size mannequins that perform traditional rituals and other religious dances. The new Education Workshop and imagiNATIONS Activity Center also occupy the first floor, providing a dynamic, interactive space for children to learn about Native innovations in science and technology. The lower level of the building features an auditorium that hosts live performances, seminars, conferences, and other events relating to the cultures of modern Native Americans.

The shop at the National Museum of the American Indian includes an array of handcrafted jewelry, crafts and other decorative items that have been crafted mostly by members of Native tribes throughout the United States. You’ll also find a large selection of books on various tribal groups that once dominated the New York City area, New England, and the Southwest.


In the early 1900s, George Gustav Heye explored the Americas in search of unique artifacts relating to the Native people of the continents. In 1922, this ambitious collector successfully opened a museum at the Audubon Terrace in the Upper West Side district of Manhattan. After more than seven decades, the museum was relocated to the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House.

Built in the Beaux-Arts style by the legendary architect Cass Gilbert, this property has become of the most stunning architectural landmarks in New York City. As the name implies, the Custom House was primarily used to collect taxes and other financial duties relating to the city’s bustling port industry.

The first two floors of the iconic building are now occupied by the exhibitions and program space of the National Museum of the American Indian. Visitors can still embrace many of the beautiful decorative elements of the structure, including marble murals, frescoes, ornate columns and many other well-preserved installations.

Visiting National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is nested in the heart of Lower Manhattan, which is one of New York City’s oldest districts. The small Bowling Green Park and the much larger The Battery surround the museum. Served by the 4 and 5 Lines of the New York City subway network, the Bowling Green station has a central point between the two green spaces.

Located a few blocks away from the museum, the South Ferry and Whitehall Street stations are served by additional subway lines. In fact, both of these transit hubs offer easy access to the Staten Island Ferry. There are also lots of Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) buses that run along Battery Place, State Street, and other busy streets in the museum’s vicinity.

Location: At the George Gustav Heye Center, Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, 1 Bowling Green, New York, NY, 10004

Click here to visit National Museum of the American Indian official website.

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