Native American art museums unite creative expression with historic detail about our country’s original residents. While these institutions are fewer and further between than traditional art galleries, the opportunity to learn about various tribes and their heritage is invaluable. We’ve rounded up a handful of them that are well worth the trip!

National Museum of the American Indian (Washington, D.C.)

the american indian museum in washington, dc

This museum, perhaps more than any other, celebrates the most important contributions of Native Americans to the country’s artistic works. Part of the Smithsonian Institution, it opened on D.C.’s National Mall in 2004 and is simply massive in terms of its collection. There are more than 260,000 catalogued pieces of art here that represent more than a thousand native cultures. The NMAI has just about every type of media you can think of as well, from photographs and films to paintings and handmade creations. In addition to the art, you’ll find two theaters, a cafe, and gift shop on site. The family-friendly ImagiNATIONS Activity Center is the perfect place to for children to get a hands-on history lesson. It’s important to note that since there is no parking at the museum, it’s easiest to access via public transportation.

Millicent Rogers Museum (Taos, New Mexico)

Maria and Julian Martinez pottery

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While it’s much, much smaller than the National Museum of the American Indian (and located in the small town of Taos) the Millicent Rogers Museum is home to some truly special pieces. The specialty here is jewelry, and it houses almost 1,000 necklaces, bracelets, rings, and other accessories that incorporate the traditional Native American hallmarks of silver and turquoise. In addition, visitors will find artifacts like furniture, blankets, and pottery, as well as contemporary art from various tribes.

Heard Museum (Phoenix, AZ)

Offering rotating exhibits throughout the year in addition to a permanent collection, this Arizona museum was founded in 1929 with a primary focus on Native American tribes and other Southwestern cultures. Collections encompass not only fine art, but textiles, beadwork, baskets, and found objects. The Heard also hosts frequent events, like First Fridays and Conversations and Cocktails, that bring the community together to socialize and engage with the art.

Museum of the Cherokee Indian (Cherokee, NC)

The statue of Sequoyah, the Cherokee genius who invented Cherokee alphabet. Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Cherokee, NC. 스모키 마운틴을 노스캐롤라이나 쪽으로 벗어나면 옛 체로키 인디언들이 살던 곳에 세워진 체로키 박물관을 지나게 됩니다. 세쿠오야라는 분의 목상인데 체로키 알파벳을 발명하신 분이라는 군요. 체로키 세종대왕이시네요 ? #cherokee #statue #sequoyah #wooden #museum #smokymountains #northcarolina #nativeamerican #travel #instatravel #history #photooftheday #beyondroadmaps #art #artwork #인디언 #체로키 #박물관 #역사 #예술 #미국 #노스캐롤라이나 #여행 #나무 #조각 #여행스타그램 #해외여행 #여행사진 #여행에미치다

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One of a handful of museums completely dedicated to a specific tribe in the entire country, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian has not only art, but also multimedia exhibits that explore the life and times of the Cherokee people. Temporary traveling exhibits, like the Trail of Tears photos currently on display, make the museum worth repeat visits.