The National Film Board of Canada presents ‘Theater of Life’

Acclaimed at film festivals at home and abroad, Peter Svatek’s feature documentary Theater of Life begins a theatrical tour December 3 in Toronto, bringing an inside look at a unique social and culinary experiment to cities across Canada.

Co-produced by Triplex Films and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) in association with Phi Films, Theater of Life is a movable cinematic feast, coming to the following cities:

  • Toronto, Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, December 3–5
  • Montreal, Cinéma du Parc, starting December 23
  • Montreal, Cinéma Beaubien, starting December 23 (French-language version, Le théâtre de la vie)
  • Edmonton, Metro Cinema, December 23, 26–28
  • Quebec City, Cinéma Cartier, starting December 23 (French-language version, Le théâtre de la vie)
  • Vancouver, Vancity Theatre, January TBC

In an extraordinary soup kitchen in Milan, two vastly different worlds have been brought together by a unique social experiment. Theater of Life captures the remarkable relationship forged between the finest haute cuisine chefs in the world and the city’s most disadvantaged groups: refugees, recovering drug addicts, former sex workers, and a host of others with no place else to go.

Renowned chef Massimo Bottura, whose Osteria Francescana was named world’s best restaurant in 2016, asked 60 international chefs to join him in transforming surplus food from Expo 2015 in Milan―whose theme was Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life―into delicious and nutritious meals for Italy’s hungriest residents.

Among the top chefs lending Bottura a hand are Canadians Jeremy Charles of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and John Winter Russell from Montreal, alongside international stars like Ferran Adrià, René Redzepi and Alain Ducasse. They’ve all become engaged in Bottura’s vision for sustainable cooking, relishing the experience of gathering around a table with their hungry guests to share a meal in the beautiful Refettorio Ambrosiano, decorated by Italy’s finest artists and artisans. A visual feast in itself, Theater of Life puts a human face on its powerful message of social justice while raising awareness about the enormous environmental impact of food waste, in which 1.3 billion tons of food per year are thrown away globally, or fully a third of all food produced.

Theater of Life was named Best Canadian Feature at Toronto’s Planet in Focus International Environmental Film & Video Festival and also garnered the Tokyo Gohan Award, given to the winner of the San Sebastian Film Festival’s Culinary Zinema section. The 94-minute film was produced by Josette Gauthier (Triplex Films) and Annette Clarke (NFB), and is distributed by the NFB (Canada) and Seville International (international sales).

Food for Soul is a non-profit organization, founded by Massimo Bottura, that empowers communities to fight food waste through social inclusion. Bottura and his wife, Lara Gilmore, created Food for Soul to open more refettorios around the world.


If you are a fan of Netflix’s ‘Chef’s Table’, then The National Film Board of Canada’s ‘Theater of Life’ is for you with a slight twist.

Let’s remove the decadence and keep it simple. The eye candy you may anticipate seeing is there but ladled with a different glaze for a just as worthy mouth.

Feel free to have dalliances with the exquisite film footage depicting the best meals from the likes of Massimo Bottura and René Redzepi. But the truth in terms of what this doc is really about is in the pudding.

‘Theater of Life’ provides beautiful and yet painful portraiture of Italy’s most disadvantaged at their most vulnerable. In their homes, on the streets, alone and soaked in a pain that is far too difficult to wash away.  Their stories are rich, diverse and speak of similar sentiments.  The need for acceptance, respect and emotional nourishment ooze from the film’s subjects.

Simple gestures expressing an interest in their life, concern, a warm meal made with the simplest of ingredients from the mouth of someone who has not paid it any mind and discarded is transformed into a second coming for those who would normally do without from the hands of Michelin starred Chefs.

This film is a must watch as we head into the holiday season. What can we do to give back to those in our community who need a helping hand?  What small or large gesture could illuminate someone’s life and help them start 2017 with a full heart, mind and physical strength?

Holiday Stocking Stuffer: The Twelve Days of Christmas with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra – December 9 & 11, 2016

The malls maybe busy and we maybe run off our feet on our weekends – what better time is it to carve out some much needed early family and friends time before the holiday rush kicks in?

I encourage you to pick up tickets to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. It is truly an event for the whole family.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a festive family concert! Sing along with your favourite carols and songs as part of The Twelve Days of Christmas—a hilarious live-action pageant, narrated by Canadian actor and improv comedian Colin Mochrie, that will have you rolling on the floor with laughter. If it isn’t already, the TSO’s annual family Christmas concert is sure to become your new holiday tradition!

These concerts feature the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Earl Lee, with the Highland Creek Pipe Band, Resonance Youth Choir and Tha Spot Holiday Dancers.


JAMES STEPHENSON: Holiday Overture

MOZART/arr. Aubrey Winter: Allegro from Toy Symphony in C major

STEVEN REINEKE: “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

LUCAS RICHMAN: Hannukah Festival Overture


JOHN RUTTER: Candlelight Carol

TRADITIONAL/arr. Mitch Clarke: Frosty the Snowman

TCHAIKOVSKY: “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from The Nutcracker

TCHAIKOVSKY: Trépak from The Nutcracker

ANDERSON: Sleigh Ride

DELVYN CASE: Rocket Sleigh

RICHARD HAYMAN: The Twelve Days of Christmas

FINNEGAN, PLOYHAR, LUCK: Rudolph’s Christmas Medley

Tickets can still be purchased and they are reasonably priced at $26! True stocking stuffer pricing that will keep your wallet happy as well as you and your loved ones.

Review: Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in Concert’

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Original Score composed by Howard Shore Composer Howard Shore brings J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary imagination to vivid life with his Academy® and GRAMMY® Award–winning score to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.  By the way, Howard Shore is Canadian!

Shore’s music expresses Peter Jackson’s film as an immense symphonic work—a uniquely developed vision drawn from centuries of stylistic tendencies. The music of The Lord of the Rings is counted among film music’s most complex and comprehensive works. This unique performance sets the score to the film, but allows the music to bear the narrative weight, creating a wholly new and dramatic live concert experience.

Shore’s score not only captures Fellowship’s sweeping emotion, thrilling vistas, and grand journeys, but also echoes the very construction of Tolkien’s Middle-earth.    Styles, instruments, and performers collected from around the world provide each of Tolkien’s cultures with a unique musical imprint. The rural and simple hobbits are rooted in a dulcet weave of Celtic tones.  The mystical Elves merit ethereal Eastern colours.

The Dwarves, Tolkien’s abrasive stonecutters, receive columns of parallel harmonies and a rough, guttural male chorus. The industrialized hordes of Orcs claim Shore’s most violent and percussive sounds, including Japanese taiko drums, metal bell plates and chains beaten upon piano wires, while the world of Men, flawed yet noble heirs of Middle-earth, is introduced with stern and searching brass figures. In operatic fashion, these musical worlds commingle, sometimes combining forces for a culminated power, other times violently clashing…and always bending to the will of the One Ring and its own ominous family of themes.

The music’s vast scope calls for symphony orchestra, mixed chorus, children’s chorus, and instrumental and vocal soloists singing in the Tolkien-crafted languages Quenya, Sindarin, Khuzdul, Adûnaic, Black Speech, as well as English. Original folk songs stand alongside diatonic hymns, knots of polyphony, complex tone clusters, and seething, dissonant aleatoric passages. It is purposeful, knowing writing, as contained in execution as it is far-reaching in influence; for within this broad framework resides a remarkably concise musical vision.

Shore’s writing assumes an earthy, grounded tone built on sturdy orchestral structures and a sense of line that is at once fluid yet stripped of frivolous ornamentation.

Says Howard Shore, “This is the first time that the complete score to The Fellowship of the Ring will be performed live to projection in Toronto. My first score for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, was the beginning of my journey into the world of Tolkien and I will always hold a special fondness for the music and the experience.”

—Doug Adams is a Chicago-based musician and writer. He is the author of the book The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films.


“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

It was pretty fitting that we took in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in Concert’ last night as the end of the year creeps towards us. The 3 night sold out performance captured Howard Shore Academy Award ®– Winning Score at its essence and perfectly ‘lit’ the Roy Thomson Hall space with a musical respite from the damp weather outside.

There was a definite excited energy in the air as we took our seats above Roy Thomson Hall. We had a perfect view.  The space was filled and there were a few die heard fans in full Arwen gear in front of us.  We made sure to pick up our cocktails and popcorn prior to the performance.   It’s great that the Toronto Symphony Orchestra encourages guests to indulge on treats from the concession stand for evening performances.  It is a truly cultural experience watching a film and having the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s musical wares wash over you.

The nuances that Conductor, Ludwig Wicki, brought to the table last night amplified every note that may have gotten lost as we watched ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ on the big screen in the past.  From the lovely Kaitlyn Lusk’s soprano solos and the Canadian Children Opera Company’s subtle but eloquent odes to the landscapes and intimate scenes between characters – the emotion was at its height last night.  There were tears, laughter, sighs of relief and ‘yes!’ in unison but the audience members.   We were in union last night.  Alastair Thorburn-Vitols the boy soprano was gentle in his intent with his performance but he was sure to provide the goose bump texture for the evening.   The evening was rich, diverse and beautifully curated.

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s deep bass made us cringe at numerous points throughout the performance. In those moments we constantly were made aware that the collective group of musicians, conductor and singers are true athletes.  A three hour performance with one intermission – we felt emotionally and physically raw.  Sure, these musicians are professionals – but how do they do it?  Not only were they able to evoke, provoke and keep up with a consistent momentum and still ‘slay’ us – they did it with joy, verve and it was gobsmackingly good.  The audience repaid the musicians with an epic prolonged standing ovation which was well deserved.

Music from the soundtrack that we visited in our travels together with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the Shire and abroad included of:


Prologue: One Ring To Rule Them All

The Shire

Bag End

Very Old Friends

Farewell Dear Bilbo

Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe

A Conspiracy Unmasked

Three is Company

Saruman the White

A Shortcut to Mushrooms


The Nazgûl


The Caverns of Isengard

Give Up the Halfling



The Sword That Was Broken

The Council of Elrond Assembles

The Great Eye



The Pass of Caradhras

The Doors of Durin



Balin’s Tomb


Caras Galadhon

The Mirror of Galadriel

The Fighting Uruk-hai

Parth Galen

The Departure of Boromir

The Road Goes Ever On…

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is definitely on to something here.   Last night was an excellent example of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra not only illuminating the beauty of Howard Shore’s score but also raising the bar on entertainment in the city of Toronto.  The audience lay in awe as we left Roy Thomson Hall last night and brimming with gratitude for an art that is hardly fading thanks to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s efforts and gracious talent.

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Tour App

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts—the world’s leading performing arts center and home to some of the world’s most celebrated music, dance, film and theater organizations—launched today a suite of new digital platforms. The redesigned website and two new mobile apps, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, will allow visitors to access information about performances, tickets and cultural history, experiencing the institution in new ways. The apps will also contain special tools, such as the ability to pre-order drinks during intermission, receive surprise seat upgrades, an on-the-go tour, and other benefits which enhance and improve the Lincoln Center experience. Lincoln Center’s newly redesigned website further centralizes information and access to the 11 world-class organizations that call Lincoln Center home, in addition to new content and videos that make the website a hub of cultural information. Together, these innovative digital tools and platforms make Lincoln Center’s world-class performing arts organizations, its iconic campus, and its famous history more accessible to culture lovers.

Lincoln Center’s website,, has been completely re-imagined and redeveloped for a better user experience. The site also features new curated content, articles, and videos to help users discover more about arts and culture. It also allows users to identify events, activities, and learn about artists performing. The site now allows users to browse and search through a comprehensive guide of events from Lincoln Center’s 11 resident organizations and more than 30 stages.

Key features of the website include:

– Full calendar of Lincoln Center performances and events, with filters to search and browse by date, price range, genre, venue, organization, and even off-campus locations. Streamlined ticket process for each of Lincoln Center’s resident organizations.

– Dive deeper into the arts and discover more through the new and engaging video portal (now available) featuring aggregated videos from across Lincoln Center’s 11 resident organizations, and excerpts from historic Live From Lincoln Center broadcasts.

– The Score, our new editorial portal and hub for publishing original content related to the performing arts field in general and to Lincoln Center activities in particular, will launch later this year).

– Help audiences find and follow their favorite artists and get notified when they will be performing next.

Lincoln Center has also developed two complementary mobile apps, which are currently available for free download in the Apple App Store for iPhones and the Google Play Store for Android devices.

  1. The Lincoln Center App: The core Lincoln Center mobile app is designed to enhance the on-campus and event experience through maps, upgrades and planning tools. Users will be able to access a calendar of events and purchase tickets easily. In the Showtime section of the app, users can access a digital ticket, pre-order intermission refreshments, and receive immediate information about the restrooms lines, to better avoid lines during intermission (in select venues). App users are also eligible for surprise day-of-event free seat upgrades (also in select venues).
  2. Lincoln Center Tour App: The Lincoln Center Tour app provides an interactive and personalized journey of the campus and its venues at your fingertips, in two forms: The Grand Tour, where visitors let the app guide them around Lincoln Center on a 16-stop tour of the iconic campus and its rich history of performance. Alternatively, the Touch + Go option allows users to create their own journey and experience individual sections of campus through customized self-guided tours.

The tour app provides uses with access and insights including:

– Narrated Stories about Lincoln Center’s performing arts centers by international stars of ballet, opera, jazz and the performing arts, providing the feel of a private tour and intimate guide. Participants include New York City Ballet principal ballerina Maria Kowroski, New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert, opera singer Joyce DiDonato, Artistic and Managing Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center Wynton Marsalis, and many more.

– Multi-media including video content, photos and recordings, providing glimpses of ballet exercises by famous dancers, Met Opera house traditions including the famous chandeliers rising before a performance, audio excerpts from archival recordings and performances such and treasures from the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts special collections, such as Thomas Edison testing a phonograph in 1870 and a video of Mikhail Baryshnikov warming up before a performance.

– Tips on iconic Lincoln Center locations, including the spots featured in countless movies, and other special areas of the campus perfect for photographs or social media posts — including the Revson Fountain’s daily waterworks show — making any visit memorable and sharable.

The Tour app is currently available in English, and will be available in six languages (Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish), later this year.

Review: ROM Friday Night Live: #FNLROM, November 25: Afterglow


The Royal Ontario Museum’s (ROM) Friday Night Live (#FNLROM) series, presented by Ford of Canada, delivers Toronto’s best Friday night destination with the hottest DJs, live performances, food and drink, and an opportunity to experience the Museum like never before. On Friday, November 25, 2016, bring season 10 of #FNLROM to a climax, and enjoy complementary access to the ROM’s spectacular CHIHULY exhibition.

Northside Hip Hop Archive celebrates its first honorary fellows, Toronto’s DJ Ron Nelson, and Hamilton’s Eklipz with special guest, the godfather of hip-hop, from the Bronx, New York, the legendary DJ Kool Herc. Northside DJs also spinning for this incredible night include Toronto’s very own DJ DTS, DJ Romeo and DJ Grumps.

Live Performances

Twin Rains

A Canadian dream pop group from Toronto/Vancouver. The band consists of locals Jay Merrow and Christine Stoesser, whose sound transforms the spaces they play – from thumping dance beats to synth drenched waltzes – pairing soft, ethereal vocals with atmospheric grooves.

Amanda Martinez

A Toronto-based singer/songwriter whose music exultingly blends her unique Mexican and South African roots with flamenco soul.

Other Performances: University of Toronto Faculty of Music featuring – U of T Jazz Stars

DJs: DJ Conor Cutz and DJ Sean Caff

ROM Gallery Activities

Destination – Mars: CBC’s The Nature of Things wants you to explore DESTINATION: MARS. Take a picture with your friends, complete with space inspired props and a chance to touch Mars. Learn more about the race to get humans to Mars, which today is a planet populated only by robots!

#FNLROM Tickets: $5 for ROM Members, $15 for Adults, and $13 for Students. New this season, get 20% off #FNLROM admission for groups of 20 or more! For details, email #FNLROM is a specially ticketed event for adults 19+.

Social Media

Like: ROM Facebook

Tweet: @ROMToronto

Instagram: romtoronto

Watch: ROM YouTube

Blog: ROMblog

Join the Conversation: #FNLROM


The last night of #FNLROM for 2016 was bound to be epic.  With a line up of guests that stretched past Museum Station at 7 p.m. – we knew that tonight was going to be special.

We were ready to be slayed by the likes of the Godfather of Hip Hop – DJ Kool Herc and the epic DJ Ron Nelson, but who was the mystery guest we wondered?  Dancing shoes were on, cute outfits in check and hair styled.  Work!

As we grabbed our drink and food tickets from Level One we made sure to sip a quick cocktail and then say a hello to the Chihuly exhibit which will close in 2017.  If you have yet to see his work, Dale Chihuly is a pioneer of the studio glass movement and considered to be one o the world’s foremost artists working in glass today. His ornate flowers, chandeliers and scene scapes is worth the price of ROM admission and some.

After our rendezvous with Chihuly we made our way to Level Three and grabbed a gorgeous Double from Young Animal in the Eaton Court and sipped our delish Perroni pints.  We shared a giggle or two and shimmied away to the U of T Faculty of Music house jazz crew.

Making our way to Level Two we swooned over Twin Rains the dream pop group who pairs ethereal vocals with atmospheric grooves in Bronfman Hall and then grabbed some Palabok from Tita Flips in the Biodiversity exhibit space.  Her Filipino street food never disappoints.

A hot tip, the bars on the higher floors especially in Earth’s Treasures tend to be quiet.  Grab your drinks there to get back to the party with your friends faster.

The mystery guest was the first lady of Canadian Hip Hop, Dancehall and Reggae – Michie Mee!  She kept things fresh by introducing DJ Kool Herc and reminding us that her appearance was not all abut nostalgia.  She has new music coming out soon she reassured the crowd.  Like DJ Kool Herc, Michie Mee was personable, took many a photo with her fans and was keen to remind us with her amazing smile why we continue to jump to ‘Jamaican Funk’.

By 9:30 p.m. we were ready for DJ Kool Herc.  Drinks in hand, he gave it to us hard by puling some Rob Base from his record crate and Digital Underground to get the crowd moving.  Some B-boys took the floor immediately and kept the crowd intrigued of what was to come next.  DJ Kool Herc a true pioneer of the Rap movement coming out of the Bronx gave us a memorable night – brimming with dance off’s, laughter and epic tunes we had long forgotten.  The crowd was a wonderful mix of young and old.  Everyone came together and truly contributed to a wonderful night.

DJ Ron Nelson was also in fine form by bringing his special brand of spinning that was just as tight as when we would see him in our university days.  In the early 1980s, Toronto hip-hop was in its infancy, but it took the drive of Ron Nelson, who not only volunteered on the airwaves to introduce rap music to the city via the Fantastic Voyage show on CKLN, but also as a promoter, bringing several acts from New York to Toronto.

The laughter, singing and dancing was the most epic way to end 2016 with friends at FNLROM at the Royal Ontario Museum.  What better indication that a great night was had, that when my friends and I left for the evening we had noticed we had lost our voices and felt our whole body was given a proper work out.  Epic!  Till 2017!

The Frick Collection: Guido Cagnacci’s ‘Masterpiece the Repentant Magdalene’ (October 25, 2016, through January 22, 2017)


Often times we get lost in the glamour and beauty of the collections from the likes of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art that we forget about the off the beaten path works that are just down the street that can offer just as much creative inspiration when you are on holiday.

Have you ever heard of The Frick Collection?  The Frick is known for its distinguished Old Master paintings and outstanding examples of European sculpture and decorative arts.

The collection was assembled by the Pittsburgh industrialist Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919) and is housed in his former residence on Fifth Avenue. One of New York City’s few remaining Gilded Age mansions, it provides a tranquil environment for visitors to experience masterpieces by artists such as Bellini, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Gainsborough, Goya, and Whistler. The museum opened in 1935 and has continued to acquire works of art since Mr. Frick’s death.

A collection that inspired me during my visit to The Frick Collection was from Guido Cagnacci.  His ‘Masterpiece the Repentant Magdalene’ is swoon worthy and a true exhibition of a great master series.

Guido Cagnacci (1601–1663) is among the most eccentric painters who worked in seventeenth-century Italy. His works, mostly religious in subject, are known for their unashamed, often unsettling, eroticism. Even though his pictorial style was influenced by some of the greatest Italian baroque painters—the Carracci, Guercino, and Guido Reni—his figurative language always remained individual and highly recognizable. The unconventionality of his work led to his being almost entirely forgotten during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. After exhibitions in Rimini and Bologna in 1952 and 1959, respectively, Cagnacci was rediscovered by Italian art historians and writers, but he still remains unjustifiably little known outside of Italy. Cagnacci’s ambitious Repentant Magdalene, a large canvas acquired in 1982 by the Norton Simon Art Foundation in Pasadena, CA, is considered a masterpiece of seventeenth-century Italian art.   Accompanying the exhibition in the museum’s East Gallery will be the publication The Art of Guido Cagnacci by Xavier F. Salomon, Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator. Principal funding for the exhibition is generously provided by the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation.

Trained between Bologna and Rome, Cagnacci spent most of his life producing idiosyncratic pictures for religious and aristocratic patrons in his native Romagna, an area of northeastern Italy between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. He worked in different cities of the region, in particular, Rimini and Forlì. For nearly ten years, in the 1650s, he was based in Venice, after which, in 1658, he moved to Vienna, where he died in 1663. Cagnacci was known for his unconventional lifestyle. In 1628, he was caught after unlawfully eloping with an aristocratic woman, and he was often described as living with attractive young women disguised as male apprentices. 

 Highly theatrical in composition, The Repentant Magdalene is based on contemporary literary sources and religious plays. It depicts an event from the life of Mary Magdalene, the courtesan who converted to Christianity and gave up her sinful life after her encounter with Christ. Shown in her room after meeting with Jesus in the Temple, Mary is on the floor at the center of the composition, her long blonde hair cascading down her side, her face reddened by high emotion, her body barely covered by a white sheet around her waist. She has discarded her worldly possessions, throwing away her luxurious clothes and jewels, which are scattered all over the floor, creating an astonishing still life. Her sister Martha has found her in this state. Simply dressed, Martha sits on one of the cushions on the floor, consoling Mary. Behind them, two servants are leaving the room after having found their mistress in such a state. To the left, two allegorical figures are depicted: a standing angel, its hair blown by the divine wind that ruffles its evanescent wings, banishes a levitating devil, complete with horns and tail, who approaches the window in an attempt to flee the room. These fighting figures represent Virtue and Vice locked in combat as Mary chooses to follow her virtuous new Christian life.

The Repentant Magdalene was probably painted in the early 1660s in Vienna for Emperor Leopold I. By 1665, however, the canvas was in Italy, in the collection of Carlo II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, at La Favorita, his villa outside of Mantua. The Gonzagas were closely related to the imperial family, so this may have been a diplomatic gift to them, or an acquisition from Leopold I. In 1711, it entered the possession of the Bentinck family in England, first at Bulstrode House and then at Welbeck Abbey, where it remained until 1981, when it was sold at auction.

The next time you are in New York, make some time to check out The Frick Collection.  Its boutique beautifully curated works will give you a lot to reflect upon in the days that follow.

Review: National Museum of the American Indian in New York

Like the U.S., Canada has it’s own historical connections with our First Nations roots. But there is also a history that is so dark and painful that even now deacdes later our First Nations people are experiencing the grief, loss and devastation inflicted upon them by Canada’s first European settlers.

When I visited the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian I was wary of what I may see and experience.  Instead, I immediately felt an instant emotional connection.  The beauty of the arts, costume and honour of America Indian culture is a beautifully curated in an inclusive and diverse manner.  The space also serves to kindly educate the public locally and abroad about what it means to be an American Indian and how important it is to dwell upon as one of America’s own First Nations.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan, the George Gustav Heye (pronounced “high”) Center, opened in 1994 in the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, one of the most splendid Beaux-Arts buildings in New York. The museum features year-round exhibitions, dance and music performances, children’s workshops, family and school programs and film screenings that present the diversity of the Native peoples of the Americas and the strength of their cultures from the earliest times to the present.

The museum is a branch of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The National Museum of the American Indian was established by Congress in 1989. The Heye Center in New York opened in 1994; the Cultural Resources Center, six miles from the National Mall building in Suitland, Md., opened in 1999; and the National Museum of the American Indian opened in September 2004.


The museum’s permanent exhibition “Infinity of Nations: Art and History from the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian” showcases some 700 objects from Native North, Central and South America. Objects include an exquisite Olmec jade head, a rare Anishinaabe man’s outfit and a remarkable Charles and Isabelle Edenshaw (Haida) spruce root hat. This unparalleled assemblage of American Indian cultural material represents the tremendous breadth of the collections and the richness of Native art.

In addition, the museum hosts a selection of changing exhibitions that present and reaffirm the Native voice. The schedule includes exhibitions developed by the museum from its collections, installations of contemporary Native art and significant traveling exhibitions from other institutions.


Cultural Arts

The museum hosts Native musicians, dancers, artists and elders in presentations of their art and cultural heritage and in informal programs that invite them to share directly with museum visitors the life ways and world views of Native peoples. Programs include dance presentations, hands-on workshops, storytelling programs and annual events, including the Children’s Festival and the Native Sounds Downtown concert series.

Film and Video Center

The Film + Video Center of the National Museum of the American Indian is dedicated to presenting the works of Native Americans in media. An international leader in the support and presentation of indigenous film and video projects, the Heye Center hosts the Native Cinema Showcase, an annual presentation of films held at the Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico. Screenings and discussions with filmmakers are also periodically held in the museum’s auditorium.


‘Circle of Dance’ exhibit (October 6, 2012–October 8, 2017) Consistent across time and cultures is the use of the body to communicate and express—to tell stories, participate in the cycles of nature, mourn, pray, and celebrate. Throughout the Americas music and dance have always been an essential part of the spiritual, cultural, and social lives of Native peoples.

During your time at the National Museum of the American Indian, please check out their amazing and informative tours.  Specifically the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House Tour.  Tour highlights include a discussion of the history of the site, architect Cass Gilbert, and sculptor Daniel Chester French; viewing the Collectors Office with Tiffany woodwork; Reginald Marsh murals; and the 140-ton Rotunda dome by Rafael Gustavino.  It is a free tour and a great way to go a little bit deeper into what the museum has to offer on site.

Calendar of Tours: