About the Museum
The Iroquois Museum is an educational institution dedicated to fostering understanding of Iroquois culture using Iroquois art as a window to that culture. The Museum is a venue for promoting Iroquois art and artists, and a meeting place for all peoples to celebrate Iroquois culture and diversity. As an anthropological institution, it is informed by research on archaeology, history, and the common creative spirit of modern artists and craftspeople.
We acknowledge that the Iroquois Museum is located on the ancestral lands of the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka (Mohawk people). We honor all Haudenosaunee through our educational exhibitions, events and activities. We value their connection to this valley and offer our respect to all Haudenosaunee people of the past and present.
The Longhouse Design
In a modern building designed to evoke the Great Iroquois Longhouses, visitors are introduced to another world view. The Museum is shaped as such to recall the traditional Iroquois elm bark longhouses found in this area 400 years ago. A long and lofty longhouse with ingenious smoke holes in its roof, is interpreted by architect, C. Treat Arnold as a modern skylight over the Main Gallery. Grey shakes on the exterior suggest slabs of elm bark.
The Museum's open porches suggest that additions are possible. Iroquois longhouses expanded to be over 300 feet long at times. The open mezzanine recalls the upper level of bunks and storage.
The outdoor amphitheater has a special floor constructed for Iroquois social dancing. The amphitheater is used for storytelling, talks, and various performing arts.
Why a Bear?
The Iroquois Museum’s iconic bear logo was inspired by a traditional Iroquois story about how the Bear Clan came to be the keepers of
the medicine. The Museum’s vision was to serve as a place of “good medicine” and promote understanding between native and non-native peoples. Today, we continue to be that place. The design is based on this wooden bear carving by artist Eva Fadden, Mohawk, Wolf Clan from Akwesasne.