It’s usually a festival that brings our family to the National Museum of the American Indian. As I discussed in a post about the museum last fall, I’ve found that many of the permanent collections are a bit over my kids’ two- and five-year-old heads. Most of the exhibits require quite a bit of reading, and displays are much more subtle than, say, a model of a prehistoric sea creature or a real trolley car that provide easy thrills for the kids in other museums on the National Mall.
But a new addition is coming to the NMAI that is sure to better capture the interest of younger guests. This September, the Museum will open imagiNATIONS, a family activity center that will feature interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, crafts, games, and more all designed to foster conversations about the Native peoples of the Americas, their histories, traditions, and modern lives.
As they develop the activity center, the Museum has been “testing” various activities to see which have the best results and will become permanent features of imagiNATIONS. Owen and Sasha took part in a one of these test-runs, which included igloo building and basket weaving, when we attended the Chocolate Festival back in February. They loved it!
These activity tests often coincide with festivals days, and there will be another this weekend along with the Celebrate Hawai’i Festival. The activity will focus on companion gardening, as practiced by the Hidatsa, Zuni, and Wampanoag people. As this is the season to meet the “three sisters” of Native farming: corn, beans, and squash., the Museum is trying to demonstrate this traditional theme using two different types of activities. Take the kids to try them out, then give your feedback and any suggestions.
As for the festival, the annual celebration of Hawaiian arts and culture will include special food, music, storytelling, and hula performances, as well as a new exhibition, This IS Hawai‘i. The free event will run both Saturday and Sunday from 10:30am – 4:30pm.
Read more about the progress of the imagiNATIONS Family Activity Center on the NMAI Blog.