Our permanent collection, current and past exhibits


Throughout our 50 year history, we have had many fabulous exhibits. We take great care in carefully curating each of them to bring out their inherent beauty and significance. Please take a moment to have a quick view of a sampling of some of these exhibits past, present and permanent. We generally know what is upcoming but can only announce it on our website once we are positive that the cultural items can obtained for the purpose of an exhibit. So please check our website frequently to see what future exhibits are coming. 

Traveling Exhibits


"Precious Cargo," an exhibit examining California Indian cradle baskets and childbirth traditions.


In the days of hunting and gathering, cradle baskets were practical, giving mothers a way to carry their infants and keep them safe. However, cradle baskets also played a role in reinforcing the culture and shaping the child's identity. Objects attached to the basket and patterns woven into the cradle were often meant to evoke certain traits or qualities.

For example, diamond patterns on a girl's cradle could serve as an inspiration to make beautiful designs in her basketry. Straight lines on a boy's cradle could symbolize the ability to shoot an arrow straight. The exhibit illustrates the different styles and designs of cradle baskets used throughout California, and the social traditions and attitudes surrounding childbirth.

Precious Cargo is a multi-faceted project examining traditional beliefs and practices concerning childbirth and the use of cradle baskets, both historically and contemporarily, among Pomo and Western Mono peoples, with additional material from 28 other tribal regions throughout the state.


Past Exhibits


Some of our past exhibits are in our permanent collection but some are only available to us for a limited time. Although we are limited on display space, we continue to keep the displays fresh with new, current and past exhibits. We hope that you will come visit our charming museum and become a supporter, either by becoming a member or through a donation.


Up and Coming 


Check back for information about new exhibits that will be opening at MAI in the future.


Museum of the American Indian

2200 Novato Blvd. 

Novato CA 94947

Phone:  415.897.4064

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© 2020 Museum of the American Indian. All rights reserved. 

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