New Museum to Focus on Mashantucket Pequots

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation is set to open a museum and research center devoted to American Indian histories and cultures.

The $135 million Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center will combine a public museum, a research library and archives.

The institution will be located on the tribal reservation here.

"The museum's permanent exhibits will tell the largely unknown story of the Pequots, and the research center's resources will help inform accounts of other tribes.

"Our hope is to greatly increase the understanding of American Indian histories and cultures to benefit all American Indians.," said Theresa Bell, executive director of the facility.

The building will house 85,000 square feet of permanent exhibits displaying the story of the Mashantucket Pequot tribe through various media; a 5,000-square-foot gallery designed for temporary exhibits, and a 420-seat auditorium for lectures, symposia and performances of Indian dance, music, storytelling and poetry.

The center will include a research library, a children's library, print and electronic archives, a collection of American Indian materials focusing on northeastern North America from the 16th to 20th centuries and archaeological and ethnological research and conservation laboratories.

The permanent exhibits will trace the tribe's history, culture and evolving way of life.

Items on display include a simulated glacial crevasse; a diorama depicting a caribou hunt scene, interpreted through computer interactives, and a re-created 16th century village.

Guests can take guided tours of the excavated, 17th century Fort at Mashantucket, located near the museum.

They also can explore a re-created 1780 Pequot farmstead, which is a two-acre outdoor exhibit adjacent to the museum.

For travelers with disabilities, the museum has set up an infrared system to guide blind and low-visibility visitors independently through the exhibits; portable digital audio guides; closed captioning in all theaters and interactive media stations, and tactile maps and displays.

Trained signers can be arranged for groups.

The museum is scheduled to open June 1, 1998 and is located seven miles from the town of Mystic.

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