National Museum of the American Indian in New York Opens imagiNATIONS Activity Center With Festival, Programming

Newly Constructed Youth Center Opens May 17, Includes Family, Educator Events
April 19, 2018
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imagiNATIONS Activty Center at the George Gustav Heye Center

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Young visitors to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center in New York will be introduced to Native innovations from history that shape the modern world in the imagiNATIONS Activity Center, opening Thursday, May 17. The center features activities developed on principles of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) that embrace scientific and technological advances originated in Native communities throughout the Americas. The museum’s education department will host an open house for educators on opening day at 5 p.m., with the first school-group tours the following day. Both require reservations. During opening weekend, May 19–20, the annual Children’s Festival will highlight imagiNATIONS with activities that engage the center’s content. Full details on opening week events are below.

A press conference and open house event will be held Thursday, May 17, at 10 a.m. with a welcome reception at 9:30 a.m. Members of the media must RSVP for the event by emailing or by calling (212) 514-3823. Further details of the press event are posted at

For more information about the imagiNATIONS Activity Center, consult the press kit at

2018 Children’s Festival

The 20th annual Children’s Festival is themed “Celebrating imagiNATIONS!” and takes place Saturday and Sunday, May 19–20, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. A variety of activities showcase the ingenuity of the Indigenous cultures of the Americas. A slate of special presenters will demonstrate their expertise in the areas of engineering, math, textiles, nutrition and more, including:

  • Jesús Garcia, a cultural interpreter at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, will demonstrate the art and science of weaving horsehair and agave-rope cordage.
  • Vilma Ortiz-Sanchez and Pamela Woodis will teach Maya math using the principles highlighted in the imagiNATIONS Activity Center.
  • Based on traditional dances, the Powwow Sweat dancers from Idaho will lead participatory dances that make exercise fun.

Full descriptions are available at the museum’s online calendar:

Teachers’ Open House

A Teachers’ Open House will take place Thursday, May 17, 5–7:30 p.m. in the imagiNATIONS Activity Center’s new, state-of-the-art classroom space. School and community educators will experience guided tours and hands-on activities focused on Indigenous knowledge and STEM-based concepts. Refreshments will be served, and the evening offers the opportunity to connect with colleagues and obtain classroom resources. Registration is encouraged by emailing or online at

School Programs

Educators have the opportunity for their students to be among the first school groups to experience the imagiNATIONS Activity Center. Half-hour inaugural tours take place Friday, May 18, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tours are appropriate for students in fourth grade and above. Space is limited; call (212) 514-3705 to register.


The National Museum of the American Indian’s imagiNATIONS Activity Center is made possible by the U.S. 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 Co. Additional funding provided by Catherine Morrison Golden; public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and the Rauch Foundation.

The annual Children’s Festival is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and The Walt Disney Co.

The Teachers’ Open House is funded by The Nathan Cummings Foundation, with the support and encouragement of Jason Cummings and Sophal Ear.

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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