THE SMITHSONIAN National Museum of the American Indian

Zahner was selected for the production of several decorative and artistic elements for the National Museum for the American Indian (NMAI). The Smithsonian-owned NMAI is dedicated to the preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of Native Americans. The National Museum of the American Indian is the 16th Museum of the Smithsonian Institute.

The architectural design process included a number of designers and artists, including artist Ramona Sakiestewa, architects Jones & Jones with SmithGroup, and exhibition designers at Gerald Hilferty.

Zahner worked with Hopi artist Ramona Sakiestewa to produce a copper screen wall, a permanent installation in the court of the museum which lines a walkway down to the open space. Copper was chosen to acknowledge the antiquity of the Indian people who lived in the Northeast. Copper was a widely used material in Mound Builder cultures, which stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, east of the Mississippi, over 2000 years ago.

Smithsonian native american museum
National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.
Photograph of ramona sakiestewa ilze jones
Photograph of Ramona Sakiestewa (Artist) and Ilze Jones (Architect) for the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.
Zahner shop ramona sakiestewa sculpture
Fabrication at Zahner HQ for the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.
Potomac screen nmai hi rez
Potomac Room at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.
Smithsonian detail museum upward view
National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.
Smithsonian native american museum detail
National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.

Mitsitam Café

In addition to the main Potomac room, Zahner manufactured many of the interior copper panels, railings, door furnishings and more throughout the museum. This included the Mitsitam Café. Throughout the cafe, custom patinated brass sheet is used to clad the walls, entries, and islands and counter surfaces.

Custom door handles nmai
Custom Door Handles at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.