National Museum of the American Indian

Museum in Financial District & Lower Manhattan
Image by Richard Cummins / Getty Images
Image by Richard Cummins / Getty Images

An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, this elegant tribute to Native American culture occupies Cass Gilbert's spectacular 1907 Custom House, one of NYC's finest beaux-arts buildings. Beyond a vast elliptical rotunda capped by a 140-ton skylight, sleek galleries play host to changing exhibitions featuring Native American art, culture, life and beliefs. The museum's permanent collection includes stunning decorative arts, textiles and ceremonial objects that document the diverse native cultures across the Americas, while the imagiNATIONS Activity Center explores their technologies.

The four giant female sculptures outside the building are the work of Daniel Chester French, who would go on to sculpt the seated Abraham Lincoln at Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Representing (from left to right) Asia, North America, Europe and Africa, the figures offer a revealing look at America's worldview at the beginning of the 20th century.

The museum also hosts a range of cultural programs, including dance and music performances, readings for children, craft demonstrations, films and workshops. The museum shop is well stocked with Native American jewelry, books, CDs and crafts.