Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Museum and Field Studies

First Advisor

Jennifer Shannon

Second Advisor

James Hakala

Third Advisor

Ross Loomis


In the last few decades museums in the United States had experienced major changes. Responding to extensive postmodern critique of the field, museums made a concerted effort to reevaluate their role in their communities. This "re-thinking" led to some of the most interesting changes in museum practice and how these institutions relate to their public. One of those changes is the dramatic increase in the amount of attention that museums now pay to the socio-economic and cultural diversity of their audiences. Museums are not only acknowledging that diversity, but also are focused on accommodating it within their walls. This research looks at two different museums: one is a major mainstream American museum that had implemented many of these changes in the design of its new Native American Arts gallery. The other is a large tribal museum. Through the use of evaluation techniques this research reveals the impact of the new design strategies used by the mainstream museum of visitors' experience. The results are then compared to similar research conducted at the tribal museums.