Dr. David W. Penney, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution


About Dr. David W. Penney, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution

David W. Penney is the associate director of museum scholarship, Exhibitions, and Public Engagement at the National Museum of the American Indian. An internationally recognized scholar, curator, and museum administrator, Penney came to the Smithsonian after a 31-year career at the Detroit Institute of Arts where he last served as vice president of exhibitions and collections strategies. Penney has taught at Wayne State University since 1988 and holds a Ph.D. in art history and archaeology from Columbia University.




Found marking the grave of an important individual, this gorget was worn as a neck ornament during life.

America before Columbus


Nampeyo (Hopi-Tewa), polychrome jar, c. 1930s, clay and pigment, 13 x 21 cm (National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution).
Nampeyo found inspiration from the old to create a pottery style that was entirely new and highly sought after.

Pueblo pottery and tourism



This outfit was likely made for a British lieutenant and gifted to him in a ritual exchange to show mutual respect.

Fashioning diplomacy