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First Americans Museum

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The First Americans Museum is a living institution that acts as a home for First Americans, and welcomes non-Natives as guests. It offers a variety of unique spaces and state-of-the-art resources, including permanent and changing exhibits, theaters, classrooms, and a community resource center.

RAA has been involved in the development and design of the First Americans Museum for over two decades. In developing the interpretive program for the Museum, RAA and Museum staff held extensive meetings with representatives from 39 tribal nations based in Oklahoma.

RAA was asked to create an experience that privileges the multiplicity of First American voices. These convey an ancient—yet very contemporary—story, with the purpose of generating awareness, sharing knowledge, sustaining traditions, honoring ancestors and celebrating these diverse and thriving cultures.

In the South Wing of the complex, a blend of interactive media, text, graphics and film provides for visitors an encounter with the history of Oklahoma tribal communities through tribal and personal stories. Also within the South Wing, “WINIKO; Life of an Object” is a 10-year exhibition developed in conjunction with the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). Through this exhibition, visitors view objects from the NMAI collection that were created and/or owned by members of the Oklahoma tribal communities.

The Museum is recognized as a culturally groundbreaking institution. Many of the objects on display are returning to Oklahoma for the first time since their collection in the early 20th century. As part of the exhibit’s development process, reunions between objects and descendants of the creators and/or owners were facilitated by the First Americans Museum.

Size 50,000 square feet

Year 2021

Architect Hornbeek Blatt Architects

Project Details

AV Systems DesignBBI Engineering, Inc.

Lighting DesignTechnical Artistry

AcousticsVeneklasen Associates

AwardsiF Design Award: Winner, Interior ArchitectureIndigo Design Award: Gold, Integrated Graphic DesignGOOD DESIGN® Award: Winner, EnvironmentMUSE Design Awards: Gold, InteriorIndustrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), International Design Excellence Award (IDEA): Finalist, EnvironmentsGraphis Design Annual: Silver, Exhibit

Photography Chuck Choi