Alcoa Foundation Hall of American Indians
Alcoa Foundation Hall of American Indians explores Native American cultures in an exhibition organized around their relationships with the natural world. These relationships are illustrated through case studies of societies living in four major geographical areas: the Tlingit of the Northwest Coast, Hopi of the Southwest, Lakota of the Plains, and Iroquois of the Northeast.
Unique in many ways, Alcoa Foundation Hall of American Indians is the only major museum exhibition organized around American Indians' relationships with the natural world. It is also one of the few museum exhibitions which deals with contemporary issues and life. Some artifacts were created specifically for the exhibition by contemporary artists, and all of the human figures featured in the dioramas were made from casts of American Indians. The exhibition also contains the head dress supposedly worn by Sitting Bull
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Concentrating on the 19th and 20th centuries, Alcoa Foundation Hall of American Indians exhibits American Indian cultures of the recent past and the present. A rich array of nearly 1,000 historical and contemporary artifacts is displayed, most of which have never been seen by the public. About 50 Native people partnered with Carnegie Museum of Natural History to develop Alcoa Foundation Hall of American Indians. Their historical and cultural knowledge, personal experiences and belongings, talents, artwork, guidance, and time shaped the messages and impact of the hall.
An important topic is American Indians' experiences in urban areas, such as the steelwalkers in Pittsburgh.
The Hall of American Indians engages visitors through a variety of exhibition techniques. These objects "come to life" in a dynamic environment boasting highly realistic dioramas illustrating American Indian lifestyles, eight audio programs, nine short video presentations, two interactive computer activities, and a planetarium-style theater that tells the story of how the stars got in to the heavens.
Other highlights include a re-creation of a Hopi house; a video theater featuring Native storytellers; a detailed, miniature reproduction of Cornplanter's Grant, a tract of Iroquois-owned land along the Allegheny River; and a Plains landscape with a touchable buffalo.
Did You Know?
The well-known turkey is not just a main course. It is a bird that received respect from American Indian peoples, sustained fledgling New World colonies, and inspired patriots.
For More Information
Learn about Carnegie Museum of Natural History's Section of Anthropology.