The Museum Training Program is designed to meet the needs of museums and cultural centers that are owned and/or operated by Native communities and tribal entities. Programs include workshops, museum and repository research, and technical assistance—all using the unique resources and expertise of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI).
Workshops in Museum Training
Multi-day museum training workshops provide instruction on museum functions and address the needs of Native museums and cultural centers. Topics arise from field and needs assessments, workshop evaluations, formal training requests, and suggestions from host communities.
Previous workshops have provided information on museum basics, collections, audience development, exhibitions, archives and research, fund raising, and language preservation in museums. Various Native institutions have hosted workshops across the continent as well as at NMAI facilities in Suitland, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. For more information, see Past Workshops and Participants. Native museums in proximity to housing accommodations may also offer to serve as a host for future workshops.
Three to four workshops are offered each year, and up to fifteen participants are selected per workshop. Financial aid is available, and workshop application deadlines vary. Each workshop is announced on this website and via direct mail. To be added to the Museum Training mailing list, please contact program staff via phone or email.
Museum Technical Assistance
The Technical Assistance Program provides on-site assistance to Native museums and cultural centers in the form of instruction beyond the NMAI workshop experience. The program is designed to help a Native institution address a specific problem requiring outside expertise. Technical assistance visits by one or more NMAI advisors, dedicated to working with the host site, can be provided at no cost to the local institution depending on availability and whether local resources can be obtained. Past participants in this program have included the Huhugam Cultural Center, Sacaton, Arizona (to demonstrate the process of removing adhesives from baskets and pottery destined for exhibition); the Yurok Tribal Office, Klamath, California (presenters were sent for a regional repatriation seminar); and the Koskun Kalu Research Institute, Kuna Yala District, Panama (instructors were provided for a local museum workshop).
To apply, a representative of the institution should provide a one-page letter of inquiry on official letterhead, describing the type of assistance required by the museum or cultural center. There are no deadlines. Applicants with inquiries about the appropriateness of a request are encouraged to contact program staff via phone or email prior to submitting an application.
Visiting Indigenous Professional (VIP) Museum Studies Program
The Visiting Indigenous Professional (VIP) Museum Studies Program provides hands-on training in various disciplines to further the experience of individuals currently working in Native museums and cultural centers.
The VIP Program also provides technical advice in the planning and development of a museum or cultural center. Areas of interest include collections management, conservation, registration, library services, membership and visitor services, and exhibition development. Candidates are encouraged to contact NMAI staff to explore study options and topic ideas in order to prepare a strong proposal.
Living Homes for Cultural Expression
The Museum Training Program’s guide to tribal museums and cultural centers in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico is entitled Living Homes for Cultural Expression: North American Native Perspectives on Creating Community Museums. The book is available free as a downloadable pdf. To order copies on CD, please contact the Museum Training Program via phone or email. To order printed books, visit the museum's online store.