In 1994, the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House became home to a museum that is part of the Smithsonian Institution. Also known as the George Gustav Heye Center, the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) dedicates itself to the past, present, and future culture of Native life from the entire Western hemisphere. NMAI inspires people to engage in dialogue about what humanity has to learn from the diversity of the world’s people.
The exterior of the Custom House features massive columns, statues of Columbia (a personification of the United States) and Mercury (the Roman god of commerce). New York City’s rich seaport history is evident inside the Custom House as it features seaside motifs. Once in the NMAI, visitors can enjoy displays of objects, pictures, and other artifacts of cultural significance to the numerous groups indigenous to the Western hemisphere. Special gatherings and annual festivals take place at the museum throughout the year. Check their online schedule for information about these and other dance and musical performances.
Free admission is granted to all visitors. NMAI opens at 10 am daily and closes at 5 pm, except on Thursdays when the hours are extended to 8 pm. Inquire at the visitors’ desk on the second floor if you are interested in touring the Custom House or if you would like a guided tour of the art and history collections at NMAI.