August 05, 2012

Webcasting the Fourth Museum: A User Guide

By Mark Christal 

A few definitions to begin:

webcast, n. The broadcast of an event over the Internet.

Fourth Museum, n. In the parlance of the National Museum of the American Indian, all of the efforts to provide access to museum programming and other resources to audiences outside the three “brick-and-mortar” facilities—the museum on the National Mall, NMAI in New York City, and the Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland.

Our museum is much more than just its exhibitions. We put on movies, musical performances, plays, dances, lectures, seminars, artist workshops, storytelling, and the like. Many of our potential audiences for these offerings cannot make it to the museum to enjoy them. Through the Fourth Museum/museum-without-walls/virtual museum concept, we want to bring the museum to the public, wherever people are, though computers and mobile devices.

One “gallery” of our Fourth Museum is webcasting. We have been working recently to expand our webcast offerings. I hope this brief guide will make NMAI’s webcasts easier to find and enjoy.  

You can find the museum's calendar of events via the CALENDAR link at the top right of To see quickly which events will be webcast, filter the listings BY CATEGORY.

Finding NMAI's Live Webcasts

 One way to find out if a particular program is being offered as a webcast is to look up the event on NMAI's calendar on our web site, which can be accessed from a link in the banner of the museum's home page.

The calendar can be filtered to show just webcasts. The filters are in the left column as you look at the calendar.  A quick way to see just the webcasts is first to click "Select: None" at the bottom of the BY CATEGORY area, and then to check the “Webcasts & Webinars” box. 

Clicking on the title of an event in the calendar will bring up a page with a detailed description of the event. If the program will be webcast, the page will include “Part of the Series: Live Webcasts” near the bottom of the detailed description. There is also a link to our webcast page in the description. All our live webcasts can be accessed on our webcast page at the time of the event,

The webcasts are recorded, and most of them will show up shortly after the event on NMAI's YouTube channel. Under Featured Playlists there are several playlists of past webcasts. New ones are added frequently, so visiting our YouTube channel is a great way to keep up with the programming at the museum.

Another way to keep track of our webcast schedule is to check out the NMAI blog. We will be putting up posts about upcoming webcasts here as well. 

Upcoming Live Webcasts


Quechua Storytelling
Andean Storytelling with Julia Garcia (Quechua). Webcast Sunday, August 5, 2012, at 11 AM and 2 PM EDT.

Storyteller Julia Garcia, who was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia, has devoted herself to teaching the richness of the Quechua language through radio programs, dance, song, and theatre. From NMAI's imagiNATIONS Activity Center, Julia shares the story of Quwiwan Atujwan, the Andean Fox and the Guinea Pig, a bilingual family-friendly program. 

Arvel Bird
Indian Summer Showcase presents Arvel Bird (Southern Paiute). Webcast Wednesday, August 8, 2012, at noon and 5 PM EDT.

From the beautiful Rasmuson Theater, the museum's Indian Summer Showcase bring you violinist and flutist Arvel Bird, who is known around the world for his dramatic connection between Celtic and Native American traditions. Dubbed “Lord of the Strings” by fans and music critics, Bird's music evokes the soul of North American history in a thoroughly entertaining, but also enlightening and humanizing, performance. 

Jim Thorpe
Jim Thorpe: World's Greatest Athlete. Webcast Friday, August 17, 2012, at 2 PM EDT.

In conjuction with the exhibition Best in the World: Native Athletes in the Olympics, NMAI presents this fascinating lecture on Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox), is the greatest all-around athlete of his age. Biographer Robert W. Wheeler will share stories and rare recordings and photographs about the athlete. Dr. Florence Ridlon will speak on the Jim Thorpe Olympic medals and records controversy and her role in the movement to get them restored to his name. Rob Wheeler will discuss the movement to return Thorpe's remains to be buried on Sac and Fox Nation land in Oklahoma. 

Subjects of NMAI webcasts coming this fall and winter include Native American astronomy, American Indian mascots, President Richard Nixon’s legacy of Native American rights, and the Mayan Calendar. New webcast programs are being added frequently, so check out the NMAI Blog and our calendar regularly.





Mark Christal produces the museum's webcasts. 

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Specially Like your images you have post. Excellent images.

September 22, 2011

Kevin Gover requests the pleasure of your company at the opening of phase one of the imagiNATIONS Activity Center

Children welcome here When I first visited the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, DC, like most people, I saw a beautiful, elegant place with intriguing and informative exhibitions. As I watch visitors to the museum, I notice that visitors experience the museum rather solemnly. That is fine for the adults who seek a thoughtful and contemplative experience. If you’re a kid, though, that can be pretty boring.

And in fact we found that our younger visitors have a hard time finding fun things to do in the museum. So about two years ago we decided to take the educational resource center space on the third floor and make it into a place for families and children, in order to provide greater opportunities for our younger visitors to engage with Native cultures.

I assigned a project manager who built a team, and I gave the team one direction: Make a dynamic space for young people to learn and have fun. The team started by looking at other spaces and talking with colleagues, both inside the Smithsonian and at institutions in other cities. In the end, they decided on a space that children and adults alike would be comfortable visiting. They wanted a range of activities to cover a variety of interests. And they wanted everything to be immersive and hands-on.

This was a challenging assignment, rather different from the mounting of a traditional museum exhibition. It’s a different way of thinking, of designing, and of building. But when talented and creative people work together, good results are possible. I could not be more excited about this new space and what the staff has accomplished.

We will open the imagiNATIONS Activity Center in three stages: in September, in October, and in early 2012. I walked through the space the other day and watched crews installing the September components: One group was mounting skate decks for the skateboard activity, while another was installing the shelf wall for the "snow" blocks of the build-it-yourself iglu. A third group was on scaffolding in the back, assembling the poles for our Amazonian stilt house, while a fourth was working on the interactive quiz show at the entrance. Our exhibitions development team is producing life-size spin puzzles and the skeleton of a giant basket. Boxes of supplies are arriving daily, and the final details for the opening programs are getting settled.

Amazonian stilt house
On opening day, September 25, we will have some very special guests—several children from the Amazonian rainforest in Peru, whose photographs were the model for our stilt house. They will be in the imagiNATIONS Center at 11:30 to talk about their home and their photography. Also, Kekaulele Kawai‘ae‘a, a young Native Hawaiian author, will read from his book at 1 and 3 PM, and Juanita Velasco, an Ixil Maya weaver from Guatemala, will do weaving demonstrations and workshops from 10:30 to 12:30 and 2 to 4 PM.

It feels like this day took a long time to come. We cannot wait to share this space with you, our visitors. I welcome you to the NMAI family and invite you to join me in opening this new museum space on September 25. I hope you’ll be as excited as I am, and that I’ll see you here many times.

—Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director, National Museum of the American Indian 

Photographs (top to bottom): At the entrance to the imagiNATIONS Activity Center, column-spin puzzles address several goals: inviting visitors to engage in hands-on activities, encouraging people to notice how different cultures express their unique identity, and letting children know that this part of the museum has been created especially for them.

The iglu activity space takes shape. Despite the woodworking clamps where text panels are being mounted at the left, no glueing will be permitted once iglu-building commences!

Dwellings from four different parts of the Americas—an Amazonian stilt house, iglu, adobe (below), and tipi (coming in phase 2 or 3)—help young museum-goers experience how cultures reflect the world around them. 


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Interesting read, thank you for posting the article, will visit the museum.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge. You have a wonderful blog! Keep it up!

This is a GREAT post! I hope you not mind. I published an excerpt on the site and linked back to your own blog for people to read the full version. Thanks for your advice.

Learning history the fun way is a whole lot of experience especially for the kids. They love to use their imaginations. Bringing up this idea would not only nurture them with an American heritage but they could also have fun at the same time.

Museums are most likely for kids. From there they could gain more knowledge. It is a great idea that they make effort on how to make kids enjoy while learning.

informative information to the public, with the museum we will know a lot of history

This is a fantastic place for children to let their imaginations run wild. It can really allow them to "live" the history they learn, which is an integral part of the learning process. Thanks for the nice piece.

We hope you not mind. I published an excerpt on the site and linked back to your own blog for people to read the full version. Thanks for your advice.

Learning history the fun way is a whole lot of experience especially for the kids. They love to use their imaginations. Bringing up this idea would not only nurture them with an American heritage but they could also have fun at the same time

This is a fantastic place for children to let their imaginations run wild. It can really allow them to "live" the history they learn, which is an integral part of the learning process. Thanks for the nice piece.

Museums are most likely for kids. From there they could gain more knowledge. It is a great idea that they make effort on how to make kids enjoy while learning.

September 07, 2011

Wait! It’s September already?

Quiz Show module This is what goes through my brain early each morning. Yesterday I was filled with giddy excitement about the opening of the new imagiNATIONS Activity Center in less than three weeks. Today, my thoughts have rotated to the other extreme: terror. There seems to be no middle ground between being stunned at how amazing all the components are and being completely overwhelmed by the amount of detail still to tackle. 

People ask what it’s like to work on a project like this, or what it is we do every day. Take September 1, for example. Bright and early I had a phone call about arranging for a facilities contractor to patch the ceiling after fire strobes and water lines are moved. Then I had a meeting with my boss to keep her updated. Then we had a team meeting to make sure everyone had what he or she needed to keep moving forward and meet our deadlines. I had meetings in the afternoon about public relations and the web; with a staff member who will be taking on some of the programming duties; and with our team editor, about issues that arose in the translation of the questions for the quiz show. And I communicated with a tribal chair about his community’s artwork for our young visitors' imagiNATIONS passports.

Amy's office I unpacked shipments that had arrived; that day we received cushions for the storytelling area, Arctic yo-yos, buffalo parts for the buffalo activity box, and art supplies for the craft room. I separated out all the organic material that first has to go into the freezer (part of the museum's careful pest management program). We had several script reviews and images to select. I stayed late last night to process orders for some of the instruments for the music room, more arts and craft supplies, handling objects for the tipi, and bins for the weaving materials for the big basket. I never did start the grant report.

It’s like this every day right now. This week it got even busier, as the activities themselves (dwellings, graphics panels, etc.) started to arrive and find their new homes in the space. Suddenly next week, it all will change from being a wonderful idea to a very real adventure.

September 25 is the opening of phase one. We’ll have a variety of activities complete and ready to go, and more still in progress. By the end of October, we’ll have the majority of the new space completed, while a few activities will wait for their debut until early next year.

Iglu area design
The excitement is definitely building at the museum, as the imagiNATIONS Activity Center becomes reality. I’m constantly refreshed by the creativity, dedication, and commitment of my colleagues. I tried keeping a list of all the people who have helped with this project, and abandoned it as I realized that nearly all museum staff have played a role. When you’re in the middle of the details, it’s sometimes hard to see the big picture, but this big picture is colorful, playful, and tremendously exhilarating.

Please join us September 25—and many times thereafter!

—Amy Van Allen, project manager for the imagiNATIONS Activity Center

Illustrations (top to bottom): The imagiNATIONS Quiz Show awaits its cue backstage—well, actually, in the basement of the museum. Come September 25, you'll find it at the top of the main staircase on the 3rd floor, at the entry to the imagiNATIONS space.

My office has been overtaken by boxes of marvelous things!

The designer's rendering of the iglu activity area, with a base to build on and a shelf to hold the "snow" blocks. If you visited the museum in February, you probably saw children building—and exploding—the prototype iglu.

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August 24, 2011

Where We Live: The imagiNATIONS Activity Center’s inaugural publication

Spanish moss dangling from trees like Rapunzel’s hair. Yellow alligator eyes peering out of the murky waters of the bayou. A daytime cacophony of cicadas and a nighttime symphony of frogs and crickets. An aura of Old World charm and moldy decay that makes you wonder if vampires truly do roam the streets at night.

These are the sights and sounds of my southern Louisiana home. What plants, animals, and people live where you live? How would you imagine them? How would you draw them?

Native peoples have been depicting the world around them for centuries, to document their daily lives and express themselves artistically. Where We Live: A Puzzle Book of American Indian Art, the imagiNATIONS Activity Center’s inaugural publication, invites young readers to explore the different ways that contemporary American Indian artists use their imaginations to draw where they live. This fun, vibrantly colored book includes eight 16-piece jigsaw puzzles made from contemporary artworks in the National Museum of the American Indian’s collections.

NMAI puzzle book

The most enjoyable aspect of putting this book together was selecting the images to turn into puzzles. As you can imagine, there are thousands of beautiful objects in the museum’s collections to choose from, so we turned to our visitors for help. The Publications Office and the imagiNATIONS Activity Center project team worked with the museum’s Web Development Office to create our first online survey. The survey was promoted on the museum’s website and Facebook profile, and within days we had hundreds of responses. Surveys were also conducted with visitors here at the museum. The results are the eight stunning artworks found in this book, which reflect a range of landscapes throughout the Western Hemisphere. 

Rolled into the concept of home is also the idea of protecting natural resources and preserving homelands for future generations. Indigenous peoples have deep ties to the land, which are often explored in the works of contemporary Native artists. As the threat of global warming and other environmental calamities increases, it is often Native communities that feel the effects first. Scientists and academics are closely watching Native responses to the changes and learning from the vast environmental knowledge that these communities have accumulated over the millennia.

Where We Live: A Puzzle Book of American Indian Art will be available mid-November—just in time for the holidays—in the museum’s gift shops and on the website. The National Museum of the American Indian is grateful to its constituents for helping us create such a captivatingly visual book for our young readers. We invite you to take a journey with the book’s eight Native artists to their homes near and far, and to think about why it is important to care for the land we share with others. 

Just beware the vampires!

—Arwen Nuttall (Cherokee), writer/editor, NMAI

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August 10, 2011

Storybook readings at the Heye Center in New York (one consolation for the end of summer)

“Back to school,” those dreaded words most students don’t want to hear during their summer vacation! The staff of the Resource Center at the museum’s George Gustav Heye Center in New York eagerly looks forward to the return of students and the chance to assist them with their assignments and educate them about indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere through our comprehensive book collection. We also encourage educators to come in so they can speak to knowledgeable staff and take a look at resources that will surely enhance their teaching about Native Americans in the classroom.

Carrie Gonzalez 
Carrie Gonzales leading a storybook reading at the Heye Center. Photo by Gaetana DeGennaro (Tohono O’odham), GGHC.

A fun way to learn about Native People is through our storybook reading and hands-on activity program. This family program invites visitors to listen to stories about different Native cultures living throughout the Western Hemisphere. Each story is followed by a culturally related hands-on activity. Storybooks document oral stories that have been handed down by storytellers through generations. Contemporary stories, such as “real children” stories, tell about Native young people in their communities today. Stories are a valuable way of learning about who we are and where we come from. Some stories are humorous, others are scary; there are stories about tricksters and stories about heroes; some are about the environment while others are about astronomy—whatever the story, each has much to teach, as well as providing good old-fashioned entertainment.

Ledger art activity
Children decorating drawings of horsemen's exploits on canvas after listening to a related storybook. Photo by Mary Ahenakew (Cherokee/Piscataway).

The program From the Shelves of the Resource Center: Storybook Reading and Hands-on Activity takes place the second Saturday of each month at 1 pm at the Heye Center in lower Manhattan. For those of you visiting the museum in Washington, D.C., the new imagiNATIONS Activity Center will be hosting it own storybook reading programs beginning in the fall.

Here are a few storybooks recommended by the Resource Center staff, if you'd like to do storybook readings with your family, in school, or on your own: 

The NMAI series My World: Young Native Americans Today shows how real Native children's lives are like other children's lives, and how, in the observance of ceremonies and other cultural traditions, they may be different. The fourth book in the series, Meet Christopher: An Osage Boy from Oklahoma by Genevieve Simermeyer, was a recipient of the 2010 American Indian Youth Literature Award.

The NMAI series Tales of the People includes four children’s books celebrating Native American culture with illustrations and stories by Indian artists and writers.

Children of Native America Today by Yvonne Wakim Dennis, Arlene Hirschfelder, and the Global Fund for Children. Charlesbridge , 2003.

Grandma Calls Me Beautiful by Barbara M. Joosse, illustrated by Barbara Lavallee. Chronicle Books, 2008.

A Coyote Solstice Tale by Thomas King, pictures by Gary Clement. Groundwood Books, 2009.

La Música De Las Montañas: Cuento basando en un relato aymara by Marcela Recabarren, illustrated by Bernardita Ojeda. Editorial Amanuta, Colección Pueblos Originarios. Chile, 2005.

Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu. HarperCollins, 2000.

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp, illustrated by Erwin Printup, Jr. Lee & Low Books, 1997.

Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Jeanne Rorex Bridges. Cinco Puntos Press, 2008.

A Man Called Raven by Richard Van Camp, pictures by George Littlechild. Children’s Book Press, 1997.

Please feel free to share your favorite books for young people on Native American life and culture in the comments.

—Gaetana DeGennaro (Tohono O’odham), Resource Center staff, George Gustav Heye Center 


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It is important to learn about the native american heritage. Thanks for sharing.