National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian brings insight into the history and culture of major tribes throughout the Americas and the Caribbean

National Museum of the American Indian in New York
National Museum of the American Indian in New York cc licensed photo by Daniel Bonatto

Located in the US Customs House, the George Gustav Heye Center in New York is a branch of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian established to promote knowledge and understanding of indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere.

This museum, one of only a few in New York that offer free admission, opened in 1994 followed by two other locations: Suitland, Maryland and the National Mall in Washington DC. It was the first museum committed to the conservation of Native American culture.

The permanent collection held at the National Museum of the American Indian consists of over 800,000 items of historical and cultural significance for all major tribes and cultures throughout the Americas and the Caribbean. In addition to the artefacts on view, the museum houses an impressive audio-visual collection, including over 90,000 historical and contemporary archives including photographs, paper folios and recordings.

For an in-depth experience, visitors can plan to spend four hours viewing the museum galleries. Visitors can also take advantage of a number of public programs including gallery talks and Native American storytelling, dance exhibitions, musical performances, films, demonstrations and hands-on workshops.

It is also well worth the visit to the museum just to see the architectural details of the historic Customs House that houses the collection.

Nearby attractions include Battery Park, Staten Island Ferry, Skyscraper Museum, Financial District, Trinity Church, St. Paul's Chapel and the Brooklyn Bridge

Facts For Your Visit

Fee: No

National Museum of the American Indian Hours:
Opening hours may differ on holidays

  • Monday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Address: 1 Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004, USA

Phone: (212) 514-3700

Official Website: National Museum of the American Indian

National Museum of the American Indian Reviews

Rated 4.5 out of 5 Star Rating

4 Star Rating Today I visited this museum with my schoolchildren. The exhibition turned out to be really small; we walked around all the halls in about an hour. The children liked the playrooms on the first floor the most. I liked the building, beautiful architecture. There were few visitors, although admission was free. I expected more; I planned a three-hour visit, because the museum building is so huge! And the museum security is really not very friendly. But overall the impressions were good.
Skorobogach Olga - a week ago

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5 Star Rating Loved it. Very interesting exhibits. Very interactive. Found a bit strange to have Columbus looking glorious in the main hall but the building was repurposed so maybe they didn't catch it. But it's worth the trip and is completely free! The staff were extremely helpful and kind. There is security but nothing crazy.
Zora Middleton - 3 months ago

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5 Star Rating This is an amazing museum. It is completely free and you have to go through a bag check. The staff were all really friendly and one talked to me about what happened during the summer of 1779 in Long Island. There's an activity area for interactive exhibits as well as videos going over history. One thing that stuck out to me was the amount of places to sit. There were seating areas all over the place. So this is also a very good place to relax.
Erik Zhou - 3 months ago

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5 Star Rating Free entrance and wonderful interaction with the exhibits. Great place for a historical class trip for any ages. Also the decorated for Day of the dead, Halloween is a great time to visit. My two great nieces loved it.
Debra Rapoport - 3 months ago

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5 Star Rating Great experience here at the museum. There isn't much to complain about this FREE museum. No advance reservations required. You can enter onto the main first floor or the lower floor and must go through a security checkpoint: a walkthrough metal detector. There are lots of interesting exhibits throughout the museum. The main section covers the native american tribes throughout the north, central and south americas. Lots of great information and exhibits there. There is also another area that covers the native american history throughout New York state specifically...covering Niagara Falls, Manhattan, The Bronx and Long Island. Downstairs has a great interactive exhibit area. Although everyone could appreciate this area, I could see how kids would gravitate toward this area. Lots of interesting and relatable information here. The main rotunda area (along with one of the museum wings) is undergoing some renovations at this time. Huge gift shop with lots of items...clothes, jewelry, food and tons of trinkets. Also a cafe area with beverages and some food items. Easy public transportation...right in front of the Bowling Green (4/5) train station. Parking, as expected, is tough in the area. A bit easier on weekends (particularly on Sundays) where parking restrictions are NOT in effect.
Jason Persaud - a month ago

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Subway Line Nearest Station Walking Time
4 or 5Bowling Green1 minute
RWhitehall Street3 minutes
1South Ferry4 minutes
JBroad Street6 minutes
2 or 3Wall Street8 minutes

How to get to National Museum of the American Indian by Subway

Take the 4 or 5 train to Bowling Green which exits right in front of the museum or take the R train to Whitehall Street and follow it north to the museum on your left or take the 1 train to South Ferry, turn left onto State Street, then right onto Bowling Green or take the J train to Broad Street, follow it south to Beaver Street and go right to Bowling Green or take the 2 or 3 train to Wall Street, walk south along William Street then right (west) on Beaver Street to the museum.

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