Museum of the Indian | Museu do Índio

A museum dedicated to the history and culture of Brazil's indigenous people

Museum of the Indian
Museum of the Indian cc licensed photo by MDOIB

Long before any of the Portuguese settlers came to Brazil influencing the setting and making it what it is today; there were other people who called this area home. People who were indigenous to this area. People who are all but forgotten.

Though you may find many museums and cultural institutions dedicated to Portuguese history and Brazilian history after the Portuguese arrived there is only one official institution in Brazil that is exclusively dedicated to the indigenous cultures and tribes of Brazil.

The objective of the Indian Museum (Museu do Indio) is to present people with accurate information regarding these indigenous societies as well as to tell the story of these cultures known as Povos Indigenas in Portuguese. The museum was created in Rio de Janeiro in 1953 by Darcy Ribeiro.

The museum was housed in an old mansion in the Botafogo district built by an entrepreneur named Joao Rodrigues Teixeira. The building has 11 rooms which feature many exhibitions of the various tribes, not all the wealth of artefacts are on display but the Indian Museum has an archive with more than 30,000 artefacts, 50,000 photographs, 200 video and sound recordings and more than 500,000 historical documents. Many of these documents also show the political position of the indigenous people from the 19th century to the present day.

All of this information provides viewers with an in depth look into the social, religious and economic lifestyle of the indigenous people. The exhibits are not just appreciated from the perspective of knowledge but they are also set up in a way that is very artistic and interesting. There are even interactive exhibits for children who visit the museum.

The gardens are also used as a space for four life size exhibitions which depict the dwelling places of the tribes such as the Xingu kitchen showing the materials used to cook and eat and also a Kuarup, which is a ritual house.

For those who are interested in learning about ancient tribes and life pre and post Portuguese settlement from the indigenous perspective, a visit to the Indian Museum is a must.

Facts For Your Visit

Fee: Yes

Open Now: Yes! Some attractions may restrict entry prior to their closing time.

Hours This Week:
  • Monday: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Address: 4th St SW & Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560, USA

Phone: (202) 633-1000

Official Website: Museum of the Indian | Museu do Índio


Metro Line Nearest Station Walking Time
Line 1 - Orange or Line 2 GreenBotafogo12 Minutes

How to get to Museum of the Indian | Museu do Índio by Metro

Exit Botafogo Station and walk south to Rua Voluntarios da Patria and go right (west) for 4 blocks to Rua das Palmeiras then go right (north) again and watch for the museum on your left ½ block up.

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Rated 4.1 out of 5

4 Star Rating Loved the Horace Poolaw exhibit. I am glad that I caught it. This museum isn't as popular a many others so it could be a great place to spend a day. There are many interactive exhibits, there is a theater that plays a brief film and a gift shop with items from various indigenous groups. The food court is worth its own visit.

Blake Wilson - 1 day ago

5 Star Rating The Smithsonian institution is amazing! All of the museums are fantastic. So much information there it would seriously take a week to really absorb it all

Nicholas Seibert - 6 days ago

4 Star Rating The restaurant here is the best museum for lunch. If you are looking for salmon or something other than burgers or chicken nuggets this is the place. There is food from Latin America here! Great spot for people who wish to learn about the American Indian. I think the museum could have a few more exhibits depicting the history of different tribes, but it was still nice. Not as crowded as other museums.

Scotty ST - 13 days ago

5 Star Rating Love love love this museum! My favorite so far! I recommend going bottom floor up. The basement is slavery history which can be a downer. The upper levels are sports and culture which can be a lifter. It's my favorite museum so far!

Korren Golden - 1 month ago

4 Star Rating This is a wonderful museum to visit, but it won't take you long to get through everything. This museum probably has the fewest actual artifacts of any of the Smithsonians I've visited. About half the building is taken up by the atrium. The architecture is absolutely stunning, but it doesn't leave much room for exhibits (especially when you factor in a first floor cafe and second floor store). That said, the exhibits that are there are quite good. I can't recommend the Nation to Nation exhibit enough. It will open your eyes to the swindling deals our government forced upon our nation's first people. The Inca Trail exhibit was very interesting as well. So much I didn't know about their culture. Make sure you visit the National Museum of the American Indian with an open mind and you will thoroughly enjoy reading about the various tribes of the Americas. And be prepared to read a lot ... because there's too much good information to just stick to the (relatively) sparse artifacts.

Teejay - 2 months ago

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