One of the newest branches of the Smithsonian, this 2004 museum is dedicated to the history, arts and culture of Native Americans throughout the Western Hemisphere. Its permanent collections, which contain thousands of artifacts, are supplemented by those at its sister institution, New York City’s long-established Museum of the American Indian.
Set on the National Mall along Independence Avenue, arguably D.C.’s most condensed museum mile, the NMAI stands on its own, a modern, curvilinear design amidst landscaping reminiscent of the American Southwest and Midwestern plains. The focus of its collections leans heavily towards native tribes of the United States, but its extensive object, media, photo and paper archives also illustrate the history and cultures of tribes from Canada, Central and South Merica, and the Caribbean.
A destination of itself the museum’s renowned café, Mitsitam, offers seasonally-changing menus, a chef’s tasting menu, and is the only eatery in the city to offer Native American specialties like fry bread.