December 05, 2009

NMAI:  5 years in 4 minutes

NMAI--5 years in 4 minutesThe National Museum of the American Indian opened on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on September 21, 2004. This video was produced to celebrate our five year anniversary. The music is Dance With Wood by the Global Drum Project.

Comment:  Nice video showing the wealth of activities occurring at the NMAI. It's almost as though these activities are more important than the permanent collection--i.e., the objects on display.

This confirms what I alluded to in my commentary on my NMAI pix. Namely, that the museum's main entrance and central atrium are great places for public gatherings and performances. Apparently they were designed with these purposes in mind.

The corollary is that they're not great places when they're not being used for public gatherings and performances. I.e., when casual strollers enter the museum, see a big empty space, and say, "Well, where is everything?"

In my notes, I suggested filling the space with temporary, easily-moved walls filled with art and artifacts. To give museum goers some instance gratification--to draw them in and make them curious about the other exhibits. This would be akin to the big dinosaur skeleton at the entrance of a typical natural history museum.

Since it's a performance space, another idea is to have performers constantly performing. Even on "off days" when there aren't many visitors. This would add some life to an otherwise cold and sterile space.

For instance, the NMAI could have a band of musicians or dancers perform, although that might be expensive. Or it could have an artist or two in residence creating art right there on the floor. Or Natives doing traditional activities such as raising a tipi, scraping a buffalo hide, or building a canoe.

If the space isn't being used, why not? What's more inviting to a typical American family that may be mildly interested in Indians, if at all? A big empty atrium, or a couple of Natives raising a tipi? The latter, by a factor of about 100 to 1.

For more on the subject, see The Feel-Good National Museum:  Reviews of the National Museum of the American Indian.

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