Top 7 Places In The U.S. To See Native American Art

Courtesy of Iroquois Indian Museum
Courtesy of Iroquois Indian Museum
Sean Scarisbrick

Across the United States, there are a number of museums and exhibits that focus on Native American cultures. Some focus on history, some focus on archaeology, and some focus on art. These seven great museums all seek innovative ways to creatively express Native American narratives through their collections. All of these museums both inform and express beauty.

National Museum of the American Indian, NYC

1. National Museum of the American Indian


National Museum of the American Indian
© Raymond Boyd/Getty Images
Covering about 12,000 years of Native American history, the National Museum of the American Indian in New York archives approximately 1,200 different Native American cultures primarily from the United States, but it also contains items from Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The museum contains not only historical artwork but it also holds modern and contemporary art. Current exhibitions include Meryl McMater: Second Self (a photographed portrait series), Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed (an exhibition of Central American ceramics), and Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family (an exhibition of jewelry that explores art’s meaning in culture).

2. American Museum of Natural History

Library, Museum, Park

American Museum of Natural History
© David Jones/Flickr
Looking at Native Americans from North, Central, and South Americas, the American Museum of Natural History brilliantly displays the great cultural breadth of Native American culture. Five exhibitions focus on American Indians. Notably, the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians, which opened in 1900, is the oldest exhibit of the museum. It contains items from a number of tribes, including the Haida and Tlingit, and it holds ‘The Great Canoe,’ which is an enormous entity that spans the exhibit’s entrance.

3. Museum of Indian Arts and Culture


The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture tells the stories of Native Americans in the Southwest from prehistory to the modern day. One exhibit, Here, Now, and Always, uses a combination of oral tradition and artifacts to explain the Southwest’s peoples. Narrations from elders, scholars, and others accompany items on display. One current exhibit, Courage and Compassion: Native Women Sculpting Women displays sculptures by Native American women in the 20th and 21st centuries using traditional techniques. This shows one way that tradition has continued in the Southwest.

4. Carnegie Museum of Natural History


Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh
Courtesy of the Heard Museum
Native Americans’ relationship to the natural world is the primary focus of the Alcoa Foundation Hall of American Indians in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. To span across the US, Alcoa includes items from the Tlingit, Hopi, Lakota, and Iroquois. The exhibit primarily focuses on contemporary lives of Native Americans, mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries. One important item the museum features is a headdress that was likely Sitting Bull’s.

Heard Museum

The Heard Museum has over 40,000 pieces, which focus on the Southwest and contemporary art from North America. The museum’s stable exhibit, HOME: Native People in the Southwest combines objects and narratives to create a rich story, and it contains a number of cultural items, including jewelry and Hopi katsina dolls. One current exhibit, Loloma: Expressions in Metal, Ink and Clay, depicts the artistic prowess of one Hopi man, Charles Loloma. Featuring jewelry and pottery, Loloma’s art shows the impressive designs of the Hopi.

Heard Museum, 2301 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ, USA, +1 602 252 8840

Courtesy of Iroquois Indian Museum

5. Iroquois Indian Museum


Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico
© Ken Lund/Flickr
Situated in a traditional Iroquois Longhouse with an open staircase that recalls an Iroquois story of creation, the Iroquois Indian Museum immerses the visitor in Iroquois culture from his initial arrival. The museum contains archaeological materials, historical items, and a large section on contemporary Iroquois art. One current exhibit, Buckskin to Bikinis, shows the evolution of fashion and art. It explores the effects of conquest on fashion, but also features elements that have been reclaimed by Native Americans, like fringe and feathers.

6. Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

Cathedral, Museum

The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts features contemporary art, and it is a goal of the MoCNA to establish a cross-cultural dialogue. It contains textiles, paintings, drawings, and pottery, among many other mediums. One current exhibit, War Department, depicts how Native Americans have dealt with war and violence. This exhibit contains items that do not deal with war directly but shows how war affects daily life. Another exhibit, An Evening Redness in the West, contains items that depict the apocalypse and reimagines what will happen afterward.
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article