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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Department of Anthropology, Arctic Studies Center

Collections Overview| Collections and Archive Tours During the Inuit Studies Conference | Department of Anthropology Openhouse | Research Visits | Transportation and Directions to Suitland | Important Information

Collections Overview

The Smithsonian’s collections represent our nation’s rich heritage, art from across the globe, and the immense diversity of the natural and cultural world. There are over 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian's collections. Two Smithsonian museums hold significant northern anthropological collections: the National Museum of Natural History (in its Anthropology Department) and the National Museum of the American Indian.

With such vast collections the Smithsonian has expanded to a number of off-the-Mall facilities -- The Museum Support Center (MSC) in Suitland, Maryland houses the collections of the National Museum of Natural History, and is also the location of the National Anthropological Archives. The Cultural Resource Center (CRC), also in Suitland, houses the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian. The MSC and the CRC are both located in Suitland, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC. Conference attendees are invited to participate in tours of the collections, though space is limited and reservations are on a first-come basis (see tour reservation information below).

The Smithsonian's northern anthropological collections include nearly 100,000 ethnological artifacts, over 1,300 works of modern and contemporary arts, and over 500,000 archaeological artifacts. Coupled with an unbroken tradition of ethnographic, archaeological and physical anthropological research, these collections provide unparalleled opportunities for research and education. Ethnological, contemporary arts, and archaeological collections provide data for studying such topics as the history of arctic peoples, the development of hunting practices, prehistoric exchange systems and evolution of art. In addition to collections, The National Anthropological Archives holds unpublished material from arctic researchers and many archival photographs, documenting traditional lifeways. ASC and Native scholars have found the archives a wonderful resource for research and for working with modern northern peoples to ensure cultural survival.

The National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center also contains manuscripts, photographs, and films regarding Inuit peoples that document daily life, traditional culture, and ethnographic explorations among various arctic communities. These collections complement the museum’s artifacts by often providing detailed information about collectors. More importantly, these archival materials offer additional untapped resources for research by Native scholars and community members.

Collection and Archive Tours During the Inuit Studies Conference

As part of the Inuit Studies Program we are offering a number of tours to our off-the-mall collection centers, the National Museum of Natural History’s Museum Support Center (MSC), the National Museum of American Indian’s Cultural Resource Center (CRC) and the National Anthropological Archives.

In addition, The Program Committee, through funding from the Recovering Voices Inititative, will allow participants to view live consultations at our Museum Support Center (MSC). Yup'ik objects will be pulled and discussed with Chuna McIntyre.

Tours are open to registered conference attendees, though space is limited. Please RSVP by emailing Lauren Marr, marrl@si.edu, in the subject line please specify which tour(s) date and time you are interested in attending. 

Live consultations at the National Museum of Natural History's Museum Support Center
  • Thursday, October 25, 2012 – 10:30AM to 12:30PM
  • Friday, October 26, 2012 – 10:30AM to 12:30PM
National Museum of Natural History's Museum Support Center (includes NMNH object collections and archives)
Tour dates and times: 
  • Thursday, October 25, 2012 – 2:30PM to 4:30PM
National Museum of the American Indian Cultural Resource Center tour (includes the NMAI Object collections, Archive Center collections, and Conservation laboratories)
Tour dates and times:
  • Friday, October 26, 2012 – 2:30PM to 4:30PM

Please RSVP by October 15, 2012

Department of Anthropology Open House and Reception, National Museum of Natural History

The research, collections and activities of the Department of Anthropology staff cover a wide range of topics and areas of the world. Some of the research topics include human-environmental interactions, population migration, origins of domestication, linguistics, and forensic anthropology.
Please join us for an open house and reception on Thursday, October 25, 2012 from 5:30PM to 7:30PM. Various labs and offices throughout the department will be open and staffed. All registered attendees are welcome; space is limited so please RSVP. To RSVP please contact Laura Fleming, flemingla@si.edu, and include ‘Openhouse’ in your subject line.

Research Visits

As part of the Inuit Studies Conference program we will be hosting a number of tours of our collections. However, if you are interested in making an appointment for research-related work please do so either prior to the conference dates or following. Drop-in research visits cannot be accommodated. Very limited timeslots will be available during the conference. To schedule your research visit, either before or after the conference, please contact or submit the following at least two months in advance. 

Transportation and Directions to Suitland

A bus service will accommodate collection tours of our off-site facilities. The buses will stop in front fo the National Museum of Natural history mall-side entrance. You must RSVP for collection tours, upon registration, a ticket will be provided to board the bus. Space is limited so please RSVP as soon as possible.

From Downtown Washington, D.C.

Take South Capital across the Anacostia River, take Suitland Parkway until the exit for Silver Hill South, exit right onto Silver Hill Road and go about 2 blocks to guard building inside black wrought iron gate on right (second driveway on right after off ramp). Ask the guard to direct you to the Museum Support Center.

From Baltimore, MD and points North

Take I-95 South to the Washington Beltway - I-495/I-95 South (toward Andrews Air Force Base or Richmond), take first exit for Route 4 - Pennsylvania Avenue (toward Washington, DC), at end of exit ramp move one lane to the left, go through 4 traffic lights and turn left at the 5th onto Silver Hill Road, go past Suitland High School, the Federal Center, Suitland Metro station. At the wrought iron fence on the right after the metro station, turn into the driveway of the Smithsonian complex. Ask the guard to direct you to the Museum Support Center.

From Richmond, VA and points South

Take I-95 North to the Washington Beltway - I-495/I-95 East (towards Alexandria or Baltimore), take first exit for St. Barnabas Road, at the end of the ramp turn left at the light, go through several traffic lights and under Route 5 - Branch Avenue, continue through one more traffic light and make a right at the next traffic light onto Silver Hill Road, immediately get in the left lane and make the first left, toward the guard building inside the black wrought iron gate. Ask the guard to direct you to the Museum Support Center.

From Maryland Eastern Shore

Take Route 50 West to the Washington Beltway - I-495/I-95 South (towards Andrews Air Force Base or Richmond), take first exit for Route 4 at Pennsylvania Avenue (towards Washington, DC), at end of exit ramp move one lane to the left, go through 4 traffic lights and turn left at the 5th onto Silver Hill Road, go past Suitland High School, the Federal Center, and the Suitland Metro station. Take the driveway on the right to the guard building inside black wrought iron gate (second driveway on right after get off ramp). Ask the guard to direct you to the Museum Support Center.

From Pittsburgh, PA and points West

Take Route 70 East (towards Harrisburg or Philadelphia), take I-270 South to the Washington Beltway - I-495/I-95 East (take the I-270 spur that stays in Maryland), take first exit for Route 4 - Pennsylvania Avenue (towards Washington, DC), at end of exit ramp move one lane to the left, go through 4 traffic lights and turn left at the 5th onto Silver Hill Road, go past Suitland High School, the Federal Center, and the Suitland Metro station. Take the driveway on the right to the guard building inside the black wrought iron gate. Ask the guard to direct you to the Museum Support Center.

Important Information/FAQs

  • We do not advise conference participants to travel to Suitland via public transportation due to the potentially unsafe areas surrounding the facilities.
  • Parking will not be available during conference tour dates, if you are interested in visiting collections before or after the tour dates please mention parking in your discussion with off-site facility coordinators (contacts above).
  • Cameras are welcome but will need to be signed in at security stations upon entering off-site facilities.

 

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