American Museum of Natural History. Hall of Eastern Woodlands Indians.

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Exist Dates

1908 - present

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
Permanent exhibition. Opened approximately 1908. Located on Floor 1, Section 4 from 1908 to approximately 1960. Temporarily located on Floor 1, Section 11 in 1962-1963. Located on Floor 3, Section 4 from 1960 to present. The Hall of Eastern Woodlands Indians at the American Museum of Natural History focuses on traditional Native American cultures of North America east of the Mississippi River, Ojibwe, Mohegan, Natchez, Seminole, and Cree, and features ethnological objects and exhibits on dwellings, farming, food, clothing, ceremonial practices, pottery, baskets, tools, metal jewelry, musical instruments, and textiles (1, 1913, p. 25-28; 1, 1964, p. 32; amnh website). Alongside the Hall of Plains Indians, the Hall of Eastern Woodlands Indians moved and was redesigned from approximately 1960 to 1966. The renovation was overseen by curator Stanley A. Freed and Joseph Guerry of the Exhibition Department (AR 1960 p. 25; AR 1966 p. 18).

The Hall of Eastern Woodlands Indians has featured exhibits on the Mohegans, Natchez, Seminole, Cherokee, Yuchi, Choctaw, Chitimacha, Cree, Delaware, Penobscot, Micmac, Maliseet (Malecite), Ojibwe, Menominee, Saulteaux, Winnebago, Sauk and Meskwaki (Fox), and the Iroquois, including the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk), Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Tuscarora (1, 1913, p. 25-28; 1, 1916, p. 27-30; 5).

Before its major renovation and move in the 1960s, the hall featured oil paintings by George Catlin (AR 1912 p. 66) presented by Ogden Mills, masks, including those of the Iroquois False Face Society (which are no longer on display), wampum, canoes, pottery, clothing, miniature groups depicting weaving and spinning of bark fiber and agricultural practices, and a to-scale Micmac family group. The hall also featured exhibits on local, present-day New York City area tribes from Manhattan, Long Island, Westchester, and New Jersey (1, 1916, p. 27-30; 1, 1927 p. 37; GG 1931 p. 40; 1, 1937, p. 17; 1, 1943, 127-9). The hall temporarily closed in 1958 during the construction of the Biology of Man Hall, and was temporarily exhibited in the School Service Building by 1962 while the new Hall of Eastern Woodlands Indians was being constructed as part of the centennial exhibition expansion program (2, 1961/62, p. 5-6; 1, 1958, p. 170). Its accompanying hall, the Hall of Plains Indians was also moved and redesigned at this time.

When the hall was reopened to the public on May 23, 1966, it featured musical accompaniments including a Winnebago song for a war party, an Ojibwe song for maple-sugar collecting season, and a chant for a moccasin game (2, 1965/66, p. 74; 3, 1967). The hall has changed little as of 2017 and is arranged with exhibits on housing, food, transportation, clothing with models, pipes, warfare, shamanism, wampum, music, and games, and featured miniature models of dwellings including an Iroquois longhouse and traditional homes of the Seminole, Natchez, and Fox (5). Also on view is a Menominee birch bark canoe (4, 1972, p. 147; 5).

Sources

    (1) American Museum of Natural History. General Guide to [the Exhibition Halls of] the American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1913-1958.
    (2) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1912-1966/67.
    (3) American Museum of Natural History. The American Museum of Natural History: A Pictorial Guide, 1967.
    (4) American Museum of Natural History. American Museum of Natural History: An Introduction. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1972.
    (5) American Museum of Natural History. "Hall of Eastern Woodlands Indians", accessed May 9, 2017, http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/permanent-exhibitions/human-origins-and-cultural-halls/hall-of-eastern-woodlands-indians.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
    American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years 1912 (page 66); 1914 (page 21); 1916 (page 88); 1922 (page 102); 1936 (page 48); 1937 (page 17); 1938 (page 11); 1939 (page 9); 1960 (page 25, 63); 1961 (page 55); 1961 (page 21); 1962 (page 14, 57); 1963 (page 21); 1964 (page 4); 1965 (page 74); 1966 (page 18); 1967; 1968 (page 10); 1969 (page 43); 1972 (page 30); 1975 (page 31); 1976 (page 31); 1986 (page 65); 1988 (page 43); 1992 (page 16)
    American Museum of Natural History General Guides for years 1911 (page 19); 1913 (page 25); 1914 (page 26); 1916 (page 27); 1918 (page 17); 1919 (page 17); 1921 (page 17); 1922 (page 17); 1923 (page 17); 1926 (page 37); 1927 (page 37); 1928 (page 23); 1930 (page 23, 24); 1931 (page 40, 41); 1932 (page 40, 41); 1933 (page 42, 43); 1934 (page 49, 50); 1935 (page 49, 50); 1936 (page 49, 50); 1939 (page 16, 120, 121); 1943 (page 16, 127, 128); 1945 (page 127, 128); 1947 (page 127, 128); 1949 (page 127, 128); 1953 (page 163); 1962 (page 12); 1964 (page 13, 32-33)
    American Museum of Natural History: A Pictorial Guide 1967.
    American Museum of Natural History: An Introduction 1972 (page 6, 7)
    American Museum of Natural History Official Guides for years 1984 (page 318); 1993 (page 50); 2001 (Table of Contents 3, page 62)

Terms

place
New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 3, Section 4. Additional location information: From 1912 the hall was located on Floor 1, Section 4, Southwest Wing. From 1960 to 1964 the hall was being planned and under construction on Floor 3, Section 4. In 1962 it was temporarily in the School Service Building on Floor 1, Section 11.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Catlin, George 1796-1872
Artist, paintings exhibited in hall (2, 1912, p. 66).
Freed, Stanley A
Curator for hall during 1960s renovation (2, 1960/61, p. 25).
Guerry, Joseph M. 1906-1967
Exhibition Department, led redesign of hall (2, 1960/61, p. 25).
Hall of Plains Indians
Accompanying hall redesigned at the same time by Stanley Freed and Joseph Guerry (2, 1960/61, p. 25; 2, 1966/67, p. 18)
Mills, Ogden 1856-1929
Presented Museum with George Catlin paintings exhibited in hall (2, 1912, p. 66).

Related Resources

subjectOf
Historic Halls of the American Museum of Natural History
Curated digital images of permanent halls in the American Museum of Natural History Library, Digital Special Collections.

Written by: Clare O'Dowd
Last modified: 2018 December 7


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