Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian

While the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian was built on the National Mall, during its construction over a period of three years, the public was able to learn about and view the project’s progress through a new Welcome Center. The Welcome Center opened to the public in June 2001, following a traditional Native blessing and remarks by Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence M. Small and National Museum of the American Indian Director W. Richard West (Southern Cheyenne).

The National Museum of the American Indian Welcome Center offers the public the opportunity to learn about the museum’s design view, the construction in progress, and learn about the development of the exhibitions and programs planned for the museum’s opening in 2004. The Welcome Center features a small exhibition with architectural models, architectural finish boards, text panels, a ceremonial shovel from the 1999 groundbreaking, and a scale-model mock-up of a portion of the copper screen wall to be featured in the Mall loop. The interior space is a combination of display, exhibit and performance areas. Many spaces have dual purposes and have duplicate lighting and power layouts. The interior atrium spans three stories and is inverse tiered to mimic the exterior. The many unique and rustic finishes pose unusual situations for the electrical installations.  The Museum was the last building to be built on the Mall. It is served by an underground substation which utilizes dual 13.5 kv feeders from the Mall loop.