Special Events in DC

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On September 21, 2004, Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) opened on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Dedicated to the culture, art, and history of Native peoples throughout the Western Hemisphere, it is the only museum of its kind in the world. The museum showcases a vast collection of 800,000 Native objects spanning 10,000 years, one of the greatest such collections ever assembled.

Unlike any other museum in Washington, the NMAI's curvilinear building of Kasota stone suggests natural rock sculpted over time by wind and water. With its 120-foot high domed roof, the Potomac Atrium is the symbolic center of the building and the perfect location for a reception of up to 600 or a seated dinner of up to 300. Other spaces include a 300-seat theater and a rooftop terrace with spectacular views of the National Mall and the U.S. Capitol. As the newest Smithsonian museum, the NMAI is one of the city’s premiere event venues.

Museum Landscape

In keeping with a reverence for the environment, four indigenous habitats surround the museum: a hardwood forest, wetlands, meadowlands, and traditional croplands. Uncarved rocks and boulders, known as "grandfather rocks," greet visitors at the entrance to a flowing water feature, which cascades over boulders into a stream ending in a circular pond at the east entrance of the museum. More than 36,000 trees, shrubs, and other plants belonging to 150 species make this surrounding landscape a wonderful prelude and follow-up to visitors' museum experience.

Outdoor Amphitheater
100 maxiumum guests  
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First Level

Upon entering the museum, visitors will find themselves in the heart of the Potomac Atrium. One hundred feet in diameter and four stories high, the soaring entranceway celebrates contemporary Native cultures and affords a place for music, dance, hands-on demonstrations, and other forms of Indian expression. Named for an Algonquian phrase meaning "where the goods are brought in," the architecturally stirring Potomac Atrium incorporates many special design features, among them: an artfully woven copper-screen wall; inlaid stone representing fire; and a prism designed to use natural light to create rainbow-like patterns during the day.

Potomac Atrium
46,673 square feet
Seating capacity 300
Standing capacity 600
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The building has two theaters, the largest of which uses state-of-the art projection equipment to simulate a clearing in the middle of a dense forest. This ability to evoke a supernatural realm permits the museum to offer Native dance, theater, and other art forms imbued with the sense of magic and spirituality that characterizes these cultures. With 300 seats, it is a flexible space that can also be used for evening film and video presentations, lectures, and seminars.

Mary Louise and Elmer Rasmuson Theater
Seating capacity 300
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Third Level

The Third Floor Overlook provides an ideal setting for a cocktail reception. Amazing views of the copper screen wall interweaving around the Potomac Atrium and opportunities to explore the galleries will inspire engaging conversations among your guests. (Passed hors d’oeuvres only; please no food or drinks in the galleries.)

Third Floor Overlook
2,472 square feet
Standing capacity 200     
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Fourth Level

With dramatic views of the U.S. Capitol and the National Mall, the Patrons Lounge is an elegant space for a small dinner, reception, or conference.

Patrons Lounge
1,445 square feet
Seating capacity 80
Standing capacity 100
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Lelawi Theater
Seating capacity 120
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This 120-seat circular theater offers a dazzling multimedia experience designed to prepare museum visitors for the themes and messages they will encounter during their visit. A 13-minute presentation immerses viewers in the vibrancy and diversity of contemporary Native life and explores, from a Native perspective, the strength that different communities across the hemisphere derive from connections to land, religion, traditional knowledge, government, and self expression.

Fourth Floor Overlook
2,291 square feet
Standing capacity 200
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Entertain your guests with a reception on the Fourth Floor Overlook. Sweeping views of the Potomac Atrium and easy access to the galleries and the Lelawi Theater always promise memorable events. (Passed hors d'oeuvres only; please no food or drinks in the galleries.)

Fourth Floor Conference Rooms
4018, 4019, and 4025
Standing Capacity 72, 71, and 45
Seating Capacity 40, 40, and 20
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The Fourth Floor Conference Rooms can be configured to accommodate different types of meetings, lunches, etc. Each conference room is well equipped with audio visual equipment for presentations or any other AV needs. Daytime catered events are required to use in house caterer, Restaurant Associates.

Fifth Level

Adjacent to the Director's Office on the fifth floor, guests have spectacular rooftop views of the National Mall and the U.S. Capitol on the Director's Terrace.

Director’s Terrace
Seating Capacity 80
Standing capacity 150
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