Kevin Gover

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Headshot of a man.

Photo by  Ken Rahaim

Kevin-Gover-Podcast-Final121819.mp3

Audio Tabs

Director of The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)

Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) Director Kevin Gover (Pawnee) has been leading the only national museum devoted exclusively to Native peoples since 2007. Established by an act of Congress in 1989, NMAI consists of a museum in New York City, a conservation facility in Maryland, and a stunning five-story, 250,000-square-foot golden-colored building with sweeping curving walls and indigenous landscaping on the National Mall. With Native Americans taking the lead in both its design and organization, the museum is home to more than 800,000 Native artifacts from throughout the Western Hemisphere, an archive of more than 125,000 photographs, and a vibrant collection of contemporary native art. It also offers a range of exhibitions, film and video screenings, school group programs, public programs, and living culture presentations throughout the year. In this podcast episode, Gover talks about the mission of the museum, which is to celebrate the art, culture, and history of Native peoples as vital and sustaining while unraveling the myths that have been engendered about Native peoples through popular culture. Given the museum’s mandate to represent not just the 573 Indian nations in the United States but all the Native peoples in the Western Hemisphere--from the Arctic Circle straight down to South America, Gover has a daunting challenge. He meets it with extraordinary equanimity, insight, and a commitment to collaborative creativity. Here’s a look at a museum like no other through the eyes of the man who guides it.