Smithsonian Celebrates Native Americans
Model of the National Museum of the American Indian, now under construction in Washington, DC.

If you can trace any of your ancestry to the very first Americans, you'll be particularly interested in the Smithsonian's latest addition. Set to open in late 2002, the National Museum of the American Indian will be a five-story, 270,000-square-foot home to an 800,000-piece Native American artifact collection. The museum will occupy the last open site, a 4.25-acre area, in the National Mall, east of the National Air and Space Museum and near the Capitol.

Designed with the help of a number of Native American consultants, the museum will be a curved structure covered in Kasota limestone to give it the appearance of being carved naturally by wind or rain. Most of the building will be almost 100 feet high, with a dome peaking at 120 feet. The museum will feature a 300-seat theater, an outdoor performance space, conference rooms and classrooms. The surrounding grounds — three-quarters of the site — will be modeled after American Indian landscapes indigenous to the Washington, DC, area.