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Our Universes


National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution


Washington, DC

One of the Museum's inaugural exhibits, Our Universes celebrates native cosmologies—world views related to the creation and order of the universe—held by indigenous peoples of the Western hemisphere, from lands north to Alaska and south to Chile. Organized from sunrise to moonrise and as a transit through the solar year, the exhibit is comprised of eight tribal galleries, each marked by a traditional solstice or equinox ritual. Tribal members, who are named and acknowledged within the gallery as community curators, created “cosmograms” (their community’s diagram of the universe) that served as templates for the design of the gallery and the selection and layout of artifacts. The label script was largely drawn from conversations with the community curators over the course of the project.

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