This thesis proposes methods for redesigning the Rochester Museum and Science Center’s (RMSC) Native Peoples of the Americas exhibit to ensure better representation of the Native cultures it displays. Explorations of these methods include a survey of the current exhibit, focusing on specific areas and design elements that need to be addressed, as well as brief comparative surveys of other Native American and ethnographic exhibits at the RMSC as well as exhibits at Ganondagan State Historic Site and the New York and Washington branches of the National Museum of the American Indian. The literature review considers the history of Native American collections and representation in American museums and provides some suggested methods for the redesign of Native American exhibits that have been put forth by museum professionals, historians, and members of Native American communities over the past 25 years. This thesis also includes primary research in the form of an interview with the Senior Director for Collections and Exhibits at the RMSC to learn the themes and concepts anticipated by the museum in the coming years, as well as visitor observations and summary reporting conducted by the author from November 2017 through February 2018 examining how the RMSC’s visitors currently use the exhibit and how to improve their experience within it. The result of this work is a series of recommendations for the RMSC’s collections and exhibitions staff to consider as they work to redesign Native Peoples of the Americas over the next several years.

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Museum Studies (BS)


Juilee Decker

Advisor/Committee Member

Stacy Nation-Knapper


RIT – Main Campus