National Museum of the American Indian in New York To Open Modernized Youth Education Center Focused on Native Innovation

The imagiNATIONS Activity Center Debuts May 17, 2018
December 18, 2017
News Release

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In conjunction with its annual Children’s Festival, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center in New York will soon unveil its newest educational initiative, the imagiNATIONS Activity Center. The multimillion-dollar upgrade to the museum transforms office space into modernized educational and exhibition spaces. The content embraces STEM-based (science, technology, engineering, math) education and introduces young visitors to Native innovations across history that continue to impact modern life. The project marks the most extensive enhancement to the museum since opening its doors at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in 1994.

“The museum is undertaking a critical effort to enhance Native curricula not just in our own facilities, but in classrooms as well,” said Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the National Museum of the American Indian. “With the addition of the imagiNATIONS Activity Center in New York, we are providing a learning environment suited to 21st-century students that helps us meet this goal. Tens of thousands of students from across the Tri-State area and beyond will experience imagiNATIONS; we aim to create a lasting impression for every one of them.”

The imagiNATIONS Activity Center opens Thursday, May 17, 2018. A press event will be held that morning at 10 a.m. with a welcome reception at 9:30 a.m. Members of the media may RSVP for the event by emailing or by calling (212) 514-3823. The opening day will also host an open house for educators. Later in the week, the museum will hold its annual Children’s Festival Saturday and Sunday, May 19–20, 2018, featuring special activities in conjunction with the opening.

The center’s content is the product of more than five years of research and consultation with Native experts in STEAM education. Along with its youth education mission, imagiNATIONS will also play host to teacher training and cross-cultural collaborations with Native communities through onsite and distance learning. The educational goal is to demonstrate the influence and impact of Native innovations and technologies on everyday life in ways that will engage visitors and stimulate their thinking—to convey Native innovations that shape how people live.

Media interactives, mechanical hands-on activities, handling objects and introductory texts and graphics will also stress the holistic Native American approach to innovation, critical thinking, creative problem solving and sustainability. The space’s various topical sections home in on themes of agriculture, physics, chemistry, mathematics, architecture and more. For more information and section descriptions, consult the imagiNATIONS Activity Center press kit:


The National Museum of the American Indian’s imagiNATIONS Activity Center is made possible by the United States Congress and the City of New York, with support from the Office of the Mayor, New York City Council, and the Manhattan Borough President’s Office through the Department of Cultural Affairs. Lead funding is provided by Valerie and John W. Rowe and The Rockefeller Foundation. Major funding is provided by the Booth Ferris Foundation; Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies; Margot and John Ernst; The George Gund Foundation in memory of George Gund III; the Nathan Cummings Foundation; the National Council of the National Museum of the American Indian; and The Walt Disney Company. Additional funding provided by Catherine Morrison Golden; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and the Rauch Foundation.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere—past, present and future—through partnership with Native people and others. The museum’s George Gustav Heye Center is located at One Bowling Green in New York City. For additional information, including hours and directions, visit Follow the museum via social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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