New York State Began Investigation of MAI

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  • The State of New York began an investigation on the Museum of the American Indian into its deaccession, investment and financial policies. Edmund Carpenter, an noted anthropologist and trustee of the museum, first brought the charges of mismanagement of the collection against the museum trustees and its administration.
  • The office of the State Attorney General Louis J. Lefkowitz lead the investigation and by October of 1974 had focused their attention on the following areas: 1) the accession and deaccession records to determine if the museum lost irreplaceable items, 2) the lending policies of the museum to see if items were not returned or sold while on loan; 3) an investigation into Mr. Carpenter's charge that primitive art dealers were allowed to buy items from the MAI's storehouse in the Bronx; 4) an investigation in to the possibility that appraisal records may have been altered so items could be sold for much more then their actual value; 5) an investigation into the board's investment policy to determine if the museum's portfolio was being administered correctly for the proper returns; and 6) an investigation to determine if the trustees and friends of the museum were allowed to purchase deaccessioned items at a reduced cost or under arrangements that gave them an edge over the public buyer.


  • Carpenter, Edmund Snow 1922-
  • Lefkowitz, Louis J
  • National Museum of the American Indian (U.S.) George Gustav Heye Center
  • National Museum of the American Indian (U.S.)
  • United States Attorney-General


Chronology of Smithsonian History


Ferretti, Fred, "State Investigates American Indian Museum," New York Times, 3 October 1974. p. 1

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


May 1974


  • Professional ethics
  • Historians
  • Museums
  • Investigations
  • Indians of North America--Museums
  • New York (State)


New York (State)

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