NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN

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Client: Smithsonian Institution
Location: New York, NY
Size: 10,000 sf
Program: Permanent Galleries
Cost: $6,300,000
Status: Completed 2010
Links to web content: Youtube, Goppion, National Museum of the American Indian, Francois Gramoli, The New York Times
Role: Celia Imrey, design and managing principal - Imrey Culbert

The National Museum of the American Indian's collection, over 800,000 artifacts, represents over 12,000 years of history and 1,200 indigenous cultures on the two American continents. For the first time in its history, the museum now presents a coherent "snapshot" of its entire collections.

The design synthesizes the museum's complex goals of expressing the sizes and contents of the regional collections, providing extensive detailed information about a single unique object from within each region, and highlighting important objects from within the collections.

The main design challenge was to create a comprehensive and delightful overall visitor experience for all ages and cultures-- including school groups of up to 60 rowdy teenagers-- in what is essentially not a gallery space.  The spaces, inherited from the landmarked Customs House, are long and tall, and difficult to organize in a non-linear manner.  The solution was to create tall wall displays at the perimeter, while floating smaller room-divider cases in the middle to give the exhibition flow and give the visitor choices.  

Participating in a retreat with scholars, artists and descendants of the artists we learned that geographic regions described in the exhibit are contested by Native Americans, since many tribes were historically nomadic.  Gentle curves and the absence of walls allows for the freer interpretation.

The custom casework and media stations were built by Goppion, Italy, and new media stations spread throughout the gallery, will assure a sophisticated yet accessible presence in the at Bowling Green

Copyright © Imrey Culbert LP
All Rights Reserved

Place credit Smithsonian Institution and David Sundberg of ESTO

Place credit Smithsonian Institution and David Sundberg of ESTO

Place credit Smithsonian Institution and David Sundberg of ESTO

Place credit Smithsonian Institution and David Sundberg of ESTO

Place credit Smithsonian Institution and David Sundberg of ESTO

Place credit Smithsonian Institution and David Sundberg of ESTO

Place credit Smithsonian Institution and David Sundberg of ESTO

Place credit Smithsonian Institution and David Sundberg of ESTO

Place credit Smithsonian Institution and David Sundberg of ESTO

Place credit Smithsonian Institution and David Sundberg of ESTO

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