17 Smithsonian museums and galleries are in Washington, DC and only two- American Indian Museum and Cooper Hewitt Design Museum are in New York. Cooper Hewitt Design Museum opened less than a year ago after expensive renovation- I wrote about the museum in one of my posts. Indian Museum has three facilities: the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (opened on September 21, 2004), Cultural Resources Center in Maryland and a the oldest one, permanent museum in New York.
|Hispanic Society of America|
Starting from 1994 Museum of the American Indian occupies two floors of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in Lower Manhattan. I wrote about the building in my previous post. The collection in the museum was assembled by George Heye during a 54-year period and includes more than 800,000 objects, as well as a photographic archive of 125,000 images.
Ranging from ancient Paleo-Indian points to contemporary fine arts, the collections include works of aesthetic, religious, and historical significance as well as articles produced for everyday use.
55 percent of the collection is archaeological, 43 percent ethnographic, and 2 percent modern and contemporary arts. The collections cover the whole American continent, not only the current U.S. geographical zone. There is a lots of information on all of the history surrounding the different Native American tribes, their ways of life, their origins, beliefs and so much more.
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, museum displayed 300 pieces of jewelry made by one Native American family in New Mexico. “Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family” will run till January 10, 2016. Various types of turquoise, coral and opal are used to create the pieces along with other materials, such as lapis lazuli set with gold and silver. Turquoise is an opaque, blue-to-green mineral that is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum.
Its natural color ranges from sky blue to yellow-green. “Turquoise is a great example of a secular and sacred stone,” says Lois Sherr Dubin, the curator for the “Glittering World” exhibition. “There is no more important defining gem stone in Southwest jewelry and part of the exhibition’s purpose is to expose people to turquoise that is not dyed or stabilized, but is the authentic stone.”
The Navajo are the largest federally recognized tribe in the United States. The Navajo language was used to create a secret code to battle the Japanese in WWII. The Navajo Nation is the largest land area retained by a U.S. tribe and is managed via agreements with the United States Congress as a sovereign Indian nation. In the middle of the nineteenth century, the Navajos had learned how to work with silver from the Spanish and pueblos. Navajos started to combine silver with the Navajo turquoise. To the Navajo tribe, the color turquoise represents happiness, luck, and health.