John P. McGovern Hall of The Americas

Permanent Collection

The John P. McGovern Hall of the Americas celebrates the remarkable diversity and extraordinary accomplishments of the Indigenous peoples of what we call the Americas, past and present.

The center of the exhibition, both in a literal and philosophical sense, is marked by an inuksuk, a stone monument used by Inuit to signify the direction of an important location. Within this exhibit, it is a reminder that Indigenous peoples have always been in the Americas, and continue to be here.

From the Arctic to South America, hundreds of items – or “belongings” as many Indigenous people reference them, are accompanied by texts, photos and videos. The timespan covered is immense, from Ice Age populations to present day.

Showcased are belongings such as shell and stone tools, ceramics, featherwork and beadwork. Featured items include instruments and headdresses of Marake ritual of initiation into adulthood, intricate Plains Indian beadwork from the Gordon Smith collection, and a totora reed boat commissioned by the Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia for HMNS.

“The John P. McGovern Hall of the Americas presents some stories that will bring a smile to your face, and others that invite you to reflect on painful events that continue to affect many Indigenous people,” said Dr. Dirk Van Tuerenhout, Curator of Anthropology for HMNS. “These include the impact of colonization, land theft, the disproportionate violence directed towards Indigenous women, and residential schools established to assimilate Indigenous children.”

CultureConnect (coming soon)

Several objects are further examined through the interactive CultureConnect platform. HMNS will continue to add information, making this exhibit a living, breathing embodiment of Indigenous people and Nations, updated when new discoveries are made.

HMNS Indigenous Advisory Council 

The museum is honored to have a distinguished group representing Indigenous peoples from across the Americas providing guidance on Native perspectives.
Concepción Poou Coy Tharin, Q’eqchi’ Maya, Artist Preserving Traditional Techniques
Candace Linklater, Moose Cree First Nation, Indigenous Peoples Reconciliation Educator
Linda Langley, Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, Anthropologist Preserving Endangered Languages
Diego Romero, Cochiti Pueblo, Artist of Traditional and Contemporary Indian Pottery
Wendi Schovanec, Cheyenne, Developer of Tribal-Specific Academic Resources for Educators

Curator: Dirk Van Tuerenhout, Ph.D.

Dr. Dirk Van Tuerenhout is spokesperson for the people’s whose former belongings are on display at the museum. “The real stars behind the objects museums display are the people who made them,” believes Dr. Dirk Van Tuerenhout, who is passionate for modern humans to understand how those who came before….

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Please help us to preserve our collections for the next generation by not using flash when taking personal pictures at HMNS and at HMNS Sugar Land. Exposure to strong lights over time causes fading and deterioration of most artifacts and specimens.

Flash photography is ONLY allowed in the Grand Hall and the rainforest of the Cockrell Butterfly Center.

Selfie sticks are not allowed anywhere in HMNS, HMNS Sugar Land and the George Observatory.

For press and any commercial photo shoots, please contact the Public Relations dept.


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