The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) Archive Center actively acquires and serves as a repository for the records of contemporary Native American artists, writers, activists, and organizations. In addition, the Archive Center holds the records of the NMAI’s predecessor institution, the Museum of the American Indian (MAI), Heye Foundation.
The Archive Center supports the mission of the museum by collecting, organizing, preserving, and making available papers, records, photographs, recordings, and ephemera that reflect the historical and contemporary lives of Native peoples throughout the Western Hemisphere. The archival collections are particularly focused on Native art, culture, knowledge, politics, events, and social and political movements. They also complement the NMAI’s object collections and are used for scholarly research, exhibitions, journalism, documentary productions, and other research, educational, and Native community activities.
Currently the Archive Center houses approximately 1,500 linear feet of manuscripts and thousands of photographic objects. Many of the Archive Center’s resources are available online through collection descriptions and finding aids. A selection of archival photographs can be found online through the NMAI’s Collections Search website. For access to materials unavailable online, please see the contact information below.
The Archive Center provides reference services to Native American community members, scholars, researchers, journalists, museum staff, and the general public. The Archive Center is located in the NMAI’s Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland, and is open to researchers by appointment only.
Archive Center staff often write about unique and topical materials from the NMAI’s archival collections on the Smithsonian’s SIRIS blog. Archive Center materials are also featured on the museum’s blog and NMAI-DC Facebook page.