Native Voices was developed by Boston Children’s Museum in close collaboration with many New England Native tribal members. Native Voices presents first-hand accounts of aspects of daily life that respect Native perspectives and talents, and honor both traditions and contemporary practices and adaptations. The success of this collaborative model is applicable across the country, and host museums can use this model to incorporate voices from their local Native communities outside New England into the exhibit.
“Native Voices is the result of years of collaboration with members of New England Native communities around sharing their contemporary culture, lifestyles and values. National Endowment for the Humanities is the gold standard of humanities support, and we are honored to have been selected,” said Alexander Goldowsky, Senior Vice President of Exhibits and Programs. “We are thrilled to enrich it further through contributions from more museums and Native communities.”
Native Voices introduces children 5-12 years old and their caregivers to five indigenous communities from New England. Hands-on activities, compelling immersive environments, evocative collections objects, and engaging first-person media present stories of the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy of Maine, the Narragansett of Rhode Island, and the Aquinnah Wampanoag and Mashpee Wampanoag of Massachusetts. The exhibit showcases and contextualizes Boston Children’s Museum’s distinguished Native American collection and builds on the Museum’s decades of collaboration with tribal communities and scholars to present authentic perspectives. With initial funding by NEH in 2009, Native Voices traveled to children’s museums through 2015 and is now on view at Boston Children’s Museum with the new exhibit enhancements.
The Native Voices main messages speak to the audience of children and their adult companions. Native Voices communicates that many New England indigenous communities continue to live, maintain, and evolve their cultural and contemporary traditions and identities; and that young members of these communities balance observance of traditions while being fully engaged in modern youth culture.
“We are delighted that Boston Children’s Museum has re-invested in this important exhibition, which has already proven to be successful with more than 1 million museum visitors in nine cities across the nation,” said Karen Mittelman, Director, Division of Public Programs. “The National Endowment for the Humanities applauds this project’s imaginative, hands-on approach, excellent scholarly team, and deep and thoughtful exploration of indigenous communities.”
Each host museum will also receive educational materials and public program templates to facilitate local collaborations. The tour will begin in January 2017 and will travel to six sites in the United States through 2019.
For additional information, please visit www.BostonChildrensMuseum.org