The Smithsonian Institution

National Museum of the American Indian - George Gustav Heye Center

New York, NY

The George Gustav Heye Center is the Smithsonian’s original National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) on the historic Bowling Green in NYC. The museum was believed to be limited by historic preservation restrictions, hampering the capacity of the museum to change its programs and reach new audiences. EwingCole led the A/E design services for a master plan, which aimed to repurpose and reprogram the museum space to best meet the current and future needs and the NMAI mission statement. As projects were implemented from the master plan, EwingCole provided complete A/E Services for the ImagiNATIONS education center. The team worked with collections, exhibit, engagement, and facilities stakeholders to ensure program requirements were met and identify the need for flexible building systems to support space use. The center’s activities, developed on principles of STEM, embrace scientific-technological advances originating in Native American communities. EwingCole also updated the Museum Store. The project restored original detailing and redesigned retail merchandising to respectfully integrate into the historic bank teller windows. All engineering systems and new lighting were thoughtfully designed to incorporate the historic architecture. The design team created innovative means to route new infrastructure to support point of sale requirements and detailed the restoration of original bronze screens, two pairs of intricately adorned oak doors and hardware, marble crown molding and wainscoting, and updated the grand chandeliers and sconces with LED lamps.