Visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York passing by a newly installed land acknowledgment plaque at the museum's Fifth Avenue location (all images courtesy the Metropolitan Museum)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announced today, May 13, that it has installed a plaque on its Fifth Avenue facade acknowledging the indigenous Lenape land on which it sits.

The bronze plaque reads:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is situated in Lenapehoking, homeland of the Lenape diaspora and historically a gathering and trading place for many diverse Native peoples, who continue to live and work on this island.

We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities — past, present, and future — for their ongoing and fundamental relationships to the region.

In a statement, the Met said that the newly installed plaque “reflects years of extensive consultation and development with diverse specialists on the topic.” The museum added that it is also exploring a site-specific acknowledgment for the Met Cloisters in northern Manhattan, which is located near surviving Lenape trails and caves.

A land acknowledgment plaque at the facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

In the past, the Met has faced criticism for housing Native American art in its Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas galleries, thus excluding it from the visual narrative of this country. In 2017, after receiving a gift of 91 works of Native American art from Charles and Valerie Diker, the museum announced that will start exhibiting works by Indigenous people in its American Wing. Last September, the museum also appointed Patricia Marroquin Norby, who is Purépecha, as its first full-time curator of Native American art.

According to the museum, Norby led the initiative to install a land acknowledgment plaque with Sylvia Yount, a curator of the American Wing.

“Land or territorial acknowledgments are common in Canada, but it’s only recently that US museums have begun to place them at their entrances,” the two curators wrote in an article.

“Such statements are integral to the goals of building and maintaining respectful relationships with Indigenous communities whose original lands museums now occupy,” Norby and Yount continued. “They also indicate that an institution is committed to appropriately honoring the communities whose ancestral and aesthetic items are now in their care.”

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant and he holds an MFA in Art Writing from the School of Visual...