Major components of the National Museum of the American People could include:


The Center for Advanced Studies of the American People is envisioned as a major scholarly institution housed in the Museum. In addition to conducting and supporting scholarly research, the Center could publish a scholarly journal and relevant articles and sponsor seminars, conferences, workshops, courses and lectures to advance knowledge in this field. Although the Center could maintain a core staff of scholars, it could also sponsor a scholars-in-residence program and create affiliations with colleges, universities and related research institutions.

A grants program operated by the Center could support scholarly research programs across the nation. In addition, the Center could serve as a national liaison with researchers in other nations exploring some element of the story about the making of the American People.

Other scholarly pursuits could include the collection and review of archival materials worldwide. A logical project for the Museum could be the publication of an online Encyclopedia of the American People that would include exhaustive information available to anyone wishing to access it. This publication could take the form of an update of the Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups edited by Stephen Thernstrom and published in 1980.

The Center could also coordinate with and support other elements of the Museum, including the curators of the permanent, special and traveling exhibitions, the genealogical center, the archives and library, the education resource center, the film center, and the public programs department.


The National Genealogical Center could be a national repository of genealogy information where Museum visitors - and others online - would have an opportunity to learn information about their ancestors as well as about the descendants and antecedents of famous Americans. A system could be explored that would allow visitors to print out and have their own genealogical information.

The Commission could explore having the Museum participate in a consortium that shares its data bases with those of other prominent genealogical centers throughout the nation and the world. The Family Search Center and Family History Library in Salt Lake City, operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the best known of these entities. Containing the records of more than three billion deceased persons, this is the largest collection of its kind in the world. The Salt Lake City library attracts about 2,000 visitors a day. Holdings include census records, passenger and immigration lists at major U.S. ports, military records and state, county and town vital records. Some records go back to 1550.

The Commission could also explore having Museum visitors participate in a DNA contribution program that could enable researchers to trace a person's migration patterns. Perhaps this program could tie in with the National Geographic Society's Genographic Project. The results of that project could be immensely helpful to the Museum in telling its story. As National Geographic reported, for decades, the primary clues to the human story came from scattered bones and artifacts. Now, scientists have found a record of ancient human migrations in the DNA of living people.


The Museum could endeavor to gather significant objects from throughout the world to help tell its story. These authentic objects could come from gifts and donations from individuals, museums and other institutions, and other nations, as well as from long-term loans from various institutions. Selected objects from the collection would help the Museum tell its story. As in other museums, a relatively small share of its collections would be on display at any one time. A secure off-site facility might be required to store these objects. Curators there would be able to research, catalog, authenticate and preserve these objects for posterity, future study and display.

Following the creation of the Museum, a major effort could be made to obtain objects relating to the Museum's story, and once the Museum's story line is approved and the Museum exhibition designers finish their plan, a major hunt could begin to find specific objects that the designers would like to include in the permanent exhibition.


The Commission could explore developing an archive and library of American migration and immigration within the Museum. It could have one of the premier holdings of books, maps, documents, photographs, oral histories, film and video, music, art and other publications and information that touch on the subject matter of the Museum. Documents could include personal papers, memoirs and government documents.

Besides having a tie-in to the holdings of the National Archives, the Museum could also strive to have documents from throughout the world that shed light on migration and emigration to this land. The archival holdings of the Museum could come from transfers, copies or computer tie-ins from universities and world-wide national and private holdings of documents. Besides collecting archival materials from these institutions, there could be a major effort to collect materials from individuals and families. The Museum could investigate a program to computerize its holdings to make them available to scholars, students and the general public.


The Museum's education and resource center could have a two-pronged mission: to teach the story of the American people to students visiting the Museum, and to foster the teaching of that story in schools throughout the nation and the world. Among its tasks could be to:

  1. Prepare a variety of grade-appropriate curricula materials based on the Museum's story about the making of the American people, including bibliographies, books and other resource materials for both teachers and students. The Museum could work with state and local departments of education to correlate its curricula materials with national and state curricula standards.
  2. Provide education training for teachers through workshops and extension classes.
  3. Provide Museum-based educators who would lead tours and give lessons for visiting school groups at the Museum.
  4. Provide Museum-specific education materials to teachers and students in advance to help make their visits more rewarding.
  5. Develop a system that allows visitors to find out about their own heritage as well as access more in-depth information about the Museum's story.

A section of the Museum could be set aside for classrooms and other learning spaces to accommodate the bus loads of school children expected to visit the Museum. The Commission could explore these and other education elements of the Museum.


Several spaces within the Museum could be designated for special exhibitions. These special exhibitions could allow the Museum to explore selected permanent exhibition subjects in more depth. The special exhibitions could also present contemporary issues, art, stories about peoples not covered in the Permanent Exhibition, and new discoveries.

The range of topics for special exhibitions is seemingly limitless, but all would adhere to the same high standards as the permanent exhibition. These special exhibitions would also serve to attract people who have already experienced the permanent exhibition.


Special portable exhibitions of different sizes and scopes could be prepared for exhibition at museums and other public spaces throughout the United States and the world. These traveling exhibitions, prepared by the Museum's curatorial and scholarly staff, would focus on subjects related to the Museum's mission. Exhibitions could focus on particular groups or the history of migration and immigration in a particular area, state or region. The Museum could also assist state and local museums throughout the nation preparing permanent exhibitions on the making of the people tailored to a particular state, locale or ethnic group. Using computer technology, the Museum could also create on-line special exhibitions.


Complementing the research center, the Museum's film and video library could include documentary and fictional productions encompassing all aspects of the Museum's story. The Museum could maintain a regular movie schedule. The Museum could include a state-of-the-art movie theater and could study the feasibility of including an IMAX-type theater. The Museum's auditorium could be an appropriate venue for major Hollywood film openings on topics covered by the Museum. Film festivals using both the Museum's theater and other nearby screens could be sponsored by the Museum. The theater could be a source of revenue for the Museum. Film scholars and historians could help assemble this collection and develop the programming for the film center.


A Peopling of America Center could study sites throughout the nation where events of significant migration and immigration history took place and, in conjunction with the National Park Service, designate such sites as Peopling of America national historic landmarks.


The Commission could explore including restaurants for the public. A food court specializing in relatively inexpensive authentic fast-foods from throughout the world and nation would be able to serve visitors to the Museum. In addition, a separate Museum destination dining room could offer premium meals from different parts of the world and could feature visiting foreign and regional chefs. The restaurant operations could be a source of income for the Museum.


Popular and recent books and videos relating to the Museum's subject as well as posters, photographs, CDs, DVDs, replicas of Museum artifacts and a variety of other appropriate gifts and souvenirs fitting a range of tastes and budgets could be sold at the Museum's book store and gift shop. This entity could be a source of income for the Museum.