George Gustav Heye Center

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George Gustav Heye Center
National Museum of the American Indian
The National Museum of the American Indian-New York (George Gustav Heye Center) (51522244534).jpg
George Gustav Heye Center
Established1922
Location Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, 1 Bowling Green, Manhattan, New York, United States
Coordinates 40°42′15″N74°00′50″W / 40.70417°N 74.01389°W / 40.70417; -74.01389 Coordinates: 40°42′15″N74°00′50″W / 40.70417°N 74.01389°W / 40.70417; -74.01389
Director Kevin Gover
Public transit access New York City Bus : M9, M15, M15 SBS, M20, M55
New York City Subway : NYCS-bull-trans-4-Std.svg NYCS-bull-trans-5-Std.svg trains at Bowling Green or NYCS-bull-trans-1-Std.svg NYCS-bull-trans-N-Std.svg NYCS-bull-trans-R-Std.svg NYCS-bull-trans-W-Std.svg trains at South Ferry – Whitehall Street
Website George Gustav Heye Center

The National Museum of the American Indian–New York, the George Gustav Heye Center, is a branch of the National Museum of the American Indian at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in Manhattan, New York City. [1] The museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution. The center features contemporary and historical exhibits of art and artifacts by and about Native Americans.

Contents

The center has its origin in the Museum of the American Indian founded by George Heye in 1916. It became part of the national museum and Smithsonian in 1987.

History

The center is named for George Gustav Heye, who began collecting Native American artifacts in 1903. He founded and endowed the Museum of the American Indian in 1916, and it opened in 1922, in a building at 155th Street and Broadway, part of the Audubon Terrace complex, in the Sugar Hill neighborhood, just south of Washington Heights. [2]

By early 1987, U.S. senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was proposing legislation that would turn over the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, on Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan, to the Museum of the American Indian. [3] For the past ten years, the museum had wished to relocate because its Upper Manhattan facility was insufficient, and the Custom House was being offered as an alternative for the museum's possible relocation to Washington, D.C. [4] [5] Mayor Ed Koch and U.S. senator Al D'Amato were initially opposed to Moynihan's plan, but dropped their opposition by August 1987. [6] U.S. senator Daniel Inouye introduced the National Museum of the American Indian Act the next month, which would have instead merged the museum's collection with that of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. [7] A compromise was reached in 1988, in which the Smithsonian would build its own museum in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian would also acquire the Heye collection, which it would continue to operate in New York City at the Custom House. [8] [9] The act was passed in 1989. [10]

The George Gustav Heye Center opened in the Custom House in 1994. [11] The Beaux Arts-style building, designed by architect Cass Gilbert, was completed in 1907 and is both a National Historic Landmark [12] and a New York City designated landmark. [13] [14] In 2006, a renovation project reworked space on the ground floor into the Diker Pavilion, adding approximately 6,000 square feet of space available for public display and events. [15] The center's exhibition and public access areas total about 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2). The Heye Center offers a range of exhibitions, film and video screenings, school group programs and living culture presentations throughout the year.

Galleries

The permanent collection of the Heye Center is called Infinity of Nations, and is designed to show the scope of the Smithsonian's collection. Organized by geographic regions (including Central and South America), the exhibit displays over 700 items and crosses the line from ethnology to art. [16] [17] Multimedia interactions include audio and video, and feature commentary by historians on specific objects.

The rotunda on the second floor is frequently used as a performance space, and features murals reflecting the history of the building, done by Reginald Marsh. [18]

Other galleries include the Photography Gallery, Special Exhibit Galleries, Contemporary Galleries, the Haudenosaunee Discovery Room, the Resource Center Reference Library, a small theater (which screens daily films), and the museum store.

The ground floor of the building houses the Diker Pavilion for Native Arts and Culture and the Education Center (referred to as the Tipi Room). [19]

Past exhibits

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