The interactive, imagiNATIONS Activity Center at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian provides young visitors a lively space with a wide variety of learning experiences.
The cultural and scientific knowledge of Indigenous peoples reflects a tradition driven by innovation that is both unique and universal. Today many of their innovations and inventions are part of daily life for millions worldwide. Visitors to the center may explore some of these Ingenious adaptations through a variety of play-based interactives. Recommended for ages 10 and younger. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
In addition to this dedicated space, the museum is also hosting the Zuni Olla Maidens, an all-female group from New Mexico, known for the traditional Pottery Dance, which features balancing large, beautifully painted water jars called “ollas” on their heads. For Mother’s Day weekend, experience “In Focus: Hawaiian Voyaging and Dance.” This celebration of Hawaiian culture demonstrates the importance of voyaging and dance for Native Hawaiian communities. Learn how to lash a canoe and tie knots, and enjoy performances by Hawaiian dance group Halau Pua Ali‘i ‘Ilima (the Royal ‘Ilima Blossom).
- Zuni Olla Maidens Performance Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7 12 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.
- In Focus: Hawaiian Voyaging and Dance Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Make sure to look for the QR codes and enjoy bilingual (English-Spanish) audio guides that can be accessed via your personal device.
Young visitors are also drawn in by the museum’s award-winning exhibition, “Americans.” The show surrounds visitors with familiar images, stereotypes and stories of Indians in the United States. Then each room dives into the history behind them with a keen, critical and, at times, humorous eye. The show examines our understandings and misunderstandings of Pocahontas, Thanksgiving, the Battle of Little Bighorn and more.
The presence of Native people here in Washington D.C. is shown in the installation “Return to a Native Place: Algonquian Peoples of the Chesapeake.” The panels and objects provide an overview of the history and events from the 1600s to the present that have impacted the lives of the Nanticoke, Powhatan and Piscataway tribes.