National Museum of the American Indian



A visit to Washington DC in September, 2004

I was working in Fairfax, VA, just outside of Washington, DC, when I learned that the Smithsonian's new National Museum of the American Indian was going to open on Tuesday, September 21, 2004. A friend and I decided to go down to the Mall and check it out. We could not get there on Tuesday, so we went on Wednesday evening. The museum closes at 5:30 PM so we knew we would not be able to get inside. When the museum opened on Tuesday, it stayed open for 28 hours straight. However, we did not know this before hand. If we had, we would have made every effort to go on Tuesday evening so we could have gone inside.

The First Americans Festival

Billboard with the schedule for the First Americans Festival
Billboard with the schedule for the First Americans Festival

In conjunction with the opening, there was also a First Americans Festival on the Mall.

If you are not familiar with the Mall area in Washington, it is a long strip of ground with the Capitol Building on one end (the east end) and the Lincoln Memorial on the other (west) end. In the middle is the Washington Monument.

Between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument is a reflecting pool and the new World War II Memorial. The Vietnam War memorial is also near the Lincoln Memorial.

Map of the National Mall
Map of the National Mall

Between the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building is a large open area. Along both sides of this area are many of the buildings that make up the Smithsonian Museum. Next to the National air and Space Museum, at the end nearest the Capitol, is the new National Museum of the American Indian. In this open area on the Mall, a lot of activities take place, and this is where they staged the First Americans Festival. At the bottom right of the map above is the new museum.

Below are some images from the First Americans Festival:

Images from the First Americans Festival
Images from the First Americans Festival


Images from the First Americans Festival


Images from the First Americans Festival
Images from the First Americans Festival


The National Museum of the American Indian

This is the corner of the building nearest to the Mall and the National Air and Space Museum. There was a tent here for people to check in for activities which were to take place this evening inside the museum. We were not invited, of course.

The National Museum of the American Indian
Detail of the architecture of the National Museum of the American Indian


Closeup of the waterfall at the National Museum of the American Indian This is a closeup of the waterfall at this corner of the building.


Miss White Mountain Apache in front of the main entrance

Miss White Mountain Apache allowed me to photograph her in front of the main entrance to the museum.







A group of Native Americans in front of the main entrance to the National Museum of the American Indian

And this group of Native Americans was allowing people to photograph them in the open area in front of the main entrance.



On the other side of the building they had gardens with some crops traditionally grown by Native Americans.

Traditional Native American crops
Traditional Native American crops


Manmade pond across the courtyard from the main entrance Across the courtyard from the main entrance was this man-made wetland area


The Mall

Buildings we passed as we walked along the mall:

National Gallery of Art National Gallery of Art


National Museum of Natural History National Museum of Natural History
National Museum of Natural History National Museum of Natural History


National Museum of American History National Museum of American History
National Museum of American History National Museum of American History


The White House

From the Mall area, we walked past the south lawn of the White House and I took these photos through the fence.

The White House as seen from the South Lawn The White House as seen from the South Lawn
The White House as seen from the South Lawn The White House as seen from the South Lawn


The White House as seen from the South Lawn The White House as seen from the South Lawn
The White House as seen from the South Lawn The White House as seen from the South Lawn


The Washington Monument I turned around and took this photo of the Washington Monument from the same spot.

The tree on the left happens to be the National Christmas Tree.
Center to the season's celebration is the living National Christmas Tree, a Colorado blue spruce from York, Pennsylvania, planted on the Ellipse October 20, 1978. The tree stands as a daily reminder of the holiday spirit and of the tradition each succeeding President has participated in since 1923.
— exerpt from History of the National Christmas Trees on the National Park Service web site.
You can also see the Jefferson Memorial peeking through there on the right.



Then we walked around to the north side of the White House and I took these photos through the fence there.

The White House as seen from the North Lawn The White House as seen from the North Lawn
The White House as seen from the North Lawn The White House as seen from the North Lawn


The photo on the right above is a little blurry because I extended the telephoto to the limit of the otical zoom, and I didn't have a tripod with me. (The camera I had at the time did not have image stabilization.) I took the photo to try to get a closeup of the security people on the roof of the White House. You can also see someone standing outside the doors.

Dinner at Mackey's Public House

From the White House, we walked to L Street and had dinner as Mackey's Pub (Mackey's Public House, 1823 L Street Northwest, Washington, DC).

The World War II Memorial

Then we headed to the new World War II Memorial. This was dedicated this year on Memorial Day - May 29, 2004.

By this time it was dark, and without a tripod, some of the photos I took didn't come out well. But I was able to set the camera down on walls and such and get a few pretty good shots.

Two 43-foot pavilions serve as markers and entries on the north and south ends of the plaza. These pavilions celebrate the victory won in the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters. Semi-circular fountains at the base of the two memorial pavilions and waterfalls flanking the Freedom Wall complement the waterworks in the Rainbow Pool.

Fifty-six granite pillars celebrate the unprecedented unity of the nation during WWII. The pillars are connected by a bronze sculpted rope that symbolizes the bonding of the nation. Each state and territory from that period and the District of Columbia is represented by a pillar adorned with oak and wheat bronze wreaths and inscribed with its name.

The World War II Memorial The World War II Memorial

Here you can see one of the pavilions with its semi-circular fountain, and some of the granite pillars. (And the Washington Monument in the background.)



The World War II Memorial The World War II Memorial Fountain


The memorial plaza and Rainbow Pool are the principal design features of the memorial, unifying all other elements.

The World War II Memorial The World War II Memorial
The World War II Memorial The World War II Memorial


The World War II Memorial Freedom Wall


A field of 4,000 sculpted gold stars on the Freedom Wall commemorate the more than 400,000 Americans who gave their lives. During WWII, the gold star was the symbol of family sacrifice. This photo is blurry because I couldn't find an appropriate place to set the camera. The top half of the photo is the stars on the Freedom Wall, and the bottom half is their reflection in the pool directly in front of it.









Go To Project Gutenberg



Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional


Contents © Copyright 2001 Author: Lee Briggs except where noted. All rights reserved.