The much celebrated building of the National Museum of the American Indian was established by an Act of Congress in 1989 and is the sixteenth in the world famous Smithsonian museum series.1 It is located in the Mall in Washington DC amidst many other buildings of national…
as the past were key aspects of the design concept: “it needed to be a living museum, neither formal nor quiet, located in close proximity to nature.” The location which was chosen for the museum contained a stream, and this natural feature, along with the directions of the street outside and the natural north, south, east and west directions were taken into account. This is because native Indian culture places high value on harmony between all aspects of human life and the natural world and even more radically: “the grounds surrounding the building are considered an extension of the building and a vital part of the museum as a whole.”2
The Seattle born architect, Johnpaul Jones, who is of Choctaw, Cherokee and Welsh heritage, consulted with a widely drawn group of native elders and they decided very early that the building and surrounding area would be different from the neoclassical or modernist museum styles: “The museum doesn’t have a straight line in it, and is meant to look as though wind and water carved its curves…”3 These curved external walls are the first feature to strike the visitor who arrives on foot:
“Theres a monumental new presence rising above the elm trees on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., - and its not like anything else youll see there. Its as if a vision from an ancient cliff city of the desert Southwest - five stories worth of honey-colored limestone, rough hewn as if by the wind yet flowing like a river of curving cantilevered walls - had been plopped down at the back door of the U.S. Capitol.”4
The site was examined by the native elders, who identified a central point and buried a secret object there. This spot now lies at the centre of the domed Potomac atrium which lies to the east of the entrance area. The entrance was not located to face the Mall, but instead it looks east towards the rising sun and, incidentally, towards the U.S. Capitol. The stream was honoured with the creation of a fountain and a ...
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11 Pages(2750 words)Term Paper
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