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Monday, December 16, 2013

Native American Museum vs Latino Museum

Smithsonian Native American Museum

Comparing the existing Native American Museum to the proposed Latino Museum

The Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian was established in 1989 and opened in 2004.


  • 5 stories
  • 250,000 sq feet
  • 450 million year old limestone shaped to symbolize wear from wind and water. 
  • Walls are mostly curved
  • 120 ft high ceiling at the performance area which is by the entrance 
  • Cafe with Native foods from the regions
    • Northern Woodlands
    • South America
    • Northwest Coast
    • Meso-America
    • Great Plains
    • Not included are the south eastern U.S. regions

  • Film and video screenings
  • School group programs
  • Living culture programs, such as "Take a Picture with a Real Indian" by James Luna


The collection includes many of the objects from the former New York's Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation
  • More than 800,000 objects
  • 125,000 photographs
  • 293 videos and growing

Curation Divided Into
  • Amazon
  • Andes
  • Arctic/Subarctic
  • California/Great Basin

  • A coherent sense of the vast geographic area that Native American's inhabited before settler colonists arrived. At the time of this writing, their website has no maps describing Native Reservations, nor do they explain where each Nation had lived prior to European colonization. 
  • A comprehensive list of the over 500 Native Nations. 
  • What may be their attempt to include the above two was broken at the time of this writing. To see if it's fixed or if there is content visit Infinity of Nations

  • Museum: 3 1/2 stars on yelp out of possible 5 
    • Many photos
    • Yelp's highlighted and vapid reviews 
      • The ceiling is gorgeous
      • Best place to each lunch at the Smithsonian
      • Architecture was fabulous
  • One positive review and four negative on wikipedia

Smithsonian Latino Museum

Proposed location of Latino Museum
Proposed to include
  • Contributions
    • Economic
    • Historic
    • Cultural
    • Artistic
    • Intellectual
  • Performance spaces
  • Community programs
  • Learning spaces
  • Diverse scope, composition and media
  • Cultural exchange
  • Works of art
  • Industrial artifacts
  • Social history artifacts

Proposed Site of Latino Museum in blue

Last speakers at Town Hall: Creating the Smithsonian National American Latino Museum

Town Hall Full Recording: Creating the Smithsonian National American Latino Museum

Video streaming by Ustream
At 1:27 a question is posed about including negative aspects of Latino culture.
Sure, they can do that, and they can explain the oppression of systemic racism; then they can also add to existing Euro-centric museums the negative aspects of Euro-American culture. 

In Summary

  • The Native American Museum focuses on "pure" Natives while ignoring the blending of cultures
  • The Latino Museum focuses on the contemporary identity of Latinos while ignoring the identity of colonized Native Americans.