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American Indian Education Center opens in the Village of Newtown

Cincinnati Museum Center provides archaeological and design support to tell the story of native cultures

On Tuesday, November 12, Cincinnati Museum Center helped dedicate the Newtown Municipal Center and the American Indian Education Center. The Education Center houses rare artifacts from native populations as far back as 0 A.D. and as recent as 1600. The interactive museum sheds light on Cincinnati’s earliest inhabitants and the rich history they left behind.

The Village of Newtown reached out to Cincinnati Museum Center to help turn the original First Baptist Church of Newtown, built in 1841, into The American Indian Education Center. The building needed extensive restoration work after it was converted into a fire station in 1957. Renovated and repurposed, the building is now the home of ancient artifacts that tell the stories of the early American Indian people who first called Newtown and the Little Miami River Valley home.

The artifacts were excavated from several mounds around the Village of Newtown, first as early farmers plowed the land and turned up pottery fragments, then under more careful excavation. The Cincinnati Museum of Natural History began archaeological digs in 1946 and that work continues today. Cincinnati Museum Center fully exposed a single wall trench house between 2008 and 2010. Bob Genheimer, Cincinnati Museum Center’s George Rieveschl curator of archaeology, and the Museum Center continue their work at the Newtown sites today and are constantly adding to the Museum Center’s collections.

Many of the artifacts, including pottery fragments, spearheads, bone gorgets, ceremonial pipes and even corn kernels, were excavated by Genheimer and are on loan from Cincinnati Museum Center. “These sites are of international importance and are some of the most complete and pristine early American Indian sites in the country, right here in the Village of Newtown,” says Genheimer. “This education center and the artifacts in it help tell the story of this area and the native cultures that inhabited it years before Europeans ever set foot in North America.”

Not only did the Museum Center excavate and loan the many artifacts on display, the Museum Center’s exhibits team also designed and built the cases that hold them, the timeline in front of the building and a ground map with plaques to indicate the locations of the various mounds. “Bob Genheimer and his team have done such a fantastic job in digging up and preserving these artifacts and we wanted to make sure we gave him and the Village of Newtown the design resources to do these artifacts and the stories they can tell justice,” says Dave Duszynski, Cincinnati Museum Center’s Vice President of Featured Experiences. “The skill and ability of our exhibits team in designing, building and installing the various indoor and outdoor elements of such a unique site complement wonderfully the artifacts that give these native cultures a voice.”

The American Indian Education Center features artifacts from the Adena (1000 B.C. to 0 A.D.), Hopewell (0 A.D. to 400), Late Woodland (400 to 1000), middle Fort Ancient (1200 to 1400) and Fort Ancient Madisonville (1450 to 1625) eras. It includes interactive elements including a screen with videos of the mounds and sites as they appeared before excavation and a screen that shows a size comparison between the mounds and Paul Brown Stadium. The Education Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located at 3537 Church Street in the Village of Newtown.