National Museum of the American Indian
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Independence Ave. and 4th St. SW
HOURS: Daily 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.;
highlight tours Mon.-Fri. 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.,
Sat.-Sun. 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3 p.m.;
closed Christmas Day
An architectural standout for its limestone layers seemingly eroded by wind and water, the National Museum of the American Indian is the first in the country devoted solely to the history of the Americas’ indigenous peoples.
This vast space is the antithesis of its busy neighbor next door, the National Air and Space Museum: Its spacious (and sometimes criticized as seemingly empty) hallways and floors showcase artifacts like ceremonial pieces, spiritual offerings, weapons, and clothing. This museum is best seen through the free one-hour tour that provides insight into the architect and designers’ use of space and examines details that aren’t readily apparent in the self-guided visit.
The museum’s gardens feature the habitats of Native Americans, with waterfalls and ponds, crops, and woodlands, a tranquil stop during a long visit to the Mall.
The building’s organic design was conceived by Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal, a member of the Blackfoot Nation, and it was implemented by the firm James Polshek & Partners, working closely with Native Americans to create the property’s elemental feel.
© Patricia Nevins Kime from Moon Washington DC, 1st Edition