Wednesday, September 22, 2010

365 Challenge, Day 67: NMAI

I visited the National Museum of the American Indian this afternoon with a fellow EFM in the hopes of seeing a short film about a Mexican artist that was inexplicably not playing when it should have been. Pity... it would have been a great conversation piece for Guadalajara (Note to self: Film is called Migrants: A Journey... remember to try again another day). Anyway, as I exited the Metro at L'Enfant Plaza and walked toward the museum, I was struck by the symbolism (irony?) of where the building is located.

Located between the Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum and the US Capitol Building, the NMAI pretty much sits in the shadow of our nation's Capitol. To be fair, building regulations in the District of Columbia guarantee that all buildings stand in the shadow of our nation's Capitol. Nothing is allowed to stand taller than freedom here.

The museum opened in September 2004 and is the first national museum in the country to be dedicated exclusively to the indigenous people of our great land. The building's design is meant to evoke the appearance of natural rock formations that have been shaped by wind and water over the millennia. Whenever possible, American Indians have filled leadership roles both in the design and operation of the museum. The Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe is divided by Native region and offers a wide variety of Native American delicacies.

At first glance, the museum location appeared to be chosen in poor taste. Further reflection and research into the matter reveals an endeavor that was undertaken with love, respect, and admiration for what came before.


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