Looking for a free museum?

Christina Greer Ph.D. | 6/27/2019, 12:09 p.m.
I recently visited one of my favorite New York City museums and was blown away.

I recently visited one of my favorite New York City museums and was blown away. The National Museum of the American Indian–New York is arguably one of New York City’s hidden gems. I discovered the work of T.C. Cannon, a Native American artist who passed away in 1978 at the age of 31 in a tragic car accident. His paintings and other mediums detailed the intricacies of Native American life, the American west, family, reimaginings of the interplay of war and service to the U.S., and his time in Vietnam. It is hard to describe in words just how profound his artwork is. All I can say is I truly was changed having seen the numerous prolific paintings, sketches, wood cuttings, poems and murals, and I implore my fellow readers to see this exhibit before the summer ends. This important exhibit closes Sept. 16, so please do not miss it.

The National Museum of the American Indian is a part of the Smithsonian Museum consortium in Washington, D.C., and serves as a resource for visitors and native New Yorkers alike. In addition to the T.C. Cannon exhibit and several permanent exhibits showcasing Native American artifacts and regalia, the museum is currently showcasing an exhibit on Taino Native Americans, thus further bridging the gap between Native American people and those from Caribbean islands and South America. The museum states the exhibit deals with the “…regeneration of Indigenous identity within the racially mixed and culturally blended societies of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico, as well as other areas of the Caribbean.” I think this important exhibit will educate and inspire. There are significant populations of Puerto Ricans and Caribbeans living in New York City and to see the shared artifacts, integrated living and similar customs of the various communities further strengthened my conviction about our collective identities and our potential to build coalitions with incredibly diverse people beyond our immediate surroundings. This robust exhibit ends in October 2019, so please be sure to see it.

The entire time I was visiting the museum, I could not believe I was seeing so much amazing art for free (and with air conditioning). There is also plenty of space to sit and reflect on the art installations. If you are interested in visiting on a summer day, The National Museum of the American Indian is located within the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House near Battery Park. More specifically, The National Museum of the American Indian–New York is located on the south side of Bowling Green, in lower Manhattan, adjacent to the northeast corner of Battery Park. It is open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, and on Thursdays until 8 p.m. Admission is free.

Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” the co-host of the new podcast FAQ-NYC, and the host of The Aftermath and The Counter on Ozy.com.