The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian is one of only a handful of museums across the country that focuses exclusively on the art, history, and culture of Native American and First Nation peoples from throughout the United States and Canada. It promotes public understanding of cultural diversity through first voice perspectives.
Since its founding in 1977, the Mitchell Museum has evolved into a cherished resource of collections, exhibits, programs and activities that introduce visitors from throughout the Chicago region to the cultures of American Indians. The Mitchell Museum’s mission is to promote and share a deeper understanding of Native American peoples through the collection, preservation, and interpretation of their traditional and contemporary art and material culture.
The museum’s collection includes archeological, ethnographic and art objects of American Indian and Inuit (Eskimo) people from all time periods, from the Paleo-Indian period through the present day. The museum serves as a resource for the Evanston community, for the greater Chicago area and its schools, for Native peoples, and for researchers from other educational and cultural institutions. The museum is dedicated to work collaboratively with each of its constituencies in all of its activities, including collections care, exhibitions, guided tours, lectures, demonstrations, workshops, loan programs and docent training.
The museum’s main exhibition galleries showcase the Native cultures of the Woodlands, Plains, Southwest, Northwest Coast, and Arctic regions of the United States and Canada. There are several temporary exhibit galleries that change several times a year. Recent special exhibits include: Raising the Totem: Exploring Northwest Coast Indigenous Cultures; 7 Artists, 7 Teachings: Baskets at Work: Utilitarian Baskets from the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian; Pipes of the American Indian; The Photographs of Edward S. Curtis; and The Teaching Lodge. Within the exhibition spaces are “touching tables” where visitors can handle examples of pottery, baskets, beadwork, clothing, and stone tools, as well as feel the raw materials used by American Indians– including snakeskin, caribou fur, birch bark, turquoise, and buffalo.
Schools, scouts, and other groups can arrange for docent-led tours, which can include storytelling and craft projects, if requested. A library of over 5,000 books and periodicals and a video collection is available for all visitors to use on-site. The museum’s programs include lectures and demonstrations by Native American artists and scholars, as well as music and dance performances.