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The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian opened in September of 2004 on the Washington Mall. Douglas E. Evelyn provides an overview of the creation of the museum leading up to the opening.

He particularly emphasizes the involvement of Native peoples in the planning process and how this affected the atmosphere and visitor experience of the NMAI.

Composed of three facilities, participation of American Indians was particularly encouraged by the so-called “fourth museum.” The fourth museum is a series of activities that provided training, workshops, internships, and so forth in collections care and exhibits.

The NMAI partnered with tribal museums and indigenous groups to provide these services.

Evelyn briefly describes the opening and its impact on the people who attended which created a unique atmosphere on the National Mall.

He also explains how the museum has been evaluating the visitor experience and how they are responding to the segmented audiences coming through.

Particular efforts to bolster the fourth museum followed the opening, including national and international outreach. Evelyn provides a discussion of how NMAI and its opening impacts public history and the interpretation of tribal history.