Inside the museum, there is the Main Gallery, the Contemporary Art Gallery, plus special lobby exhibits. The Main Gallery was established when the Museum opened in 1991, and was set up by Bud and Nancy Thompson. It is arranged in a circle, and divided into geographical regions of North America, with an emphasis on their different environments. There may be 100 or more different tribes in each of those regions, and the collections on display are the art and craft of those tribes.
Over the years we have painted the gallery walls, added murals, and made adjustments to highlight new objects, but the basic idea started by Bud and Nancy remains the same -- it is to help the visitor see the beauty in Native-made objects, and to try to imagine the world-views of the maker.
The Contemporary Art Gallery is an area for members of the Native community to create exhibits of contemporary Native art. Each year, two members of the Native community guest-curate new exhibits. This year (2019), the two exhibits are “Babaskwahomwogan: The Spirit Game” May 18th brings together a collection of traditional and modern Lacrosse sticks and on September 14th “The Journey” integrates the spiritual paintings and fine art sculpture of Arthur “Bud” Thibault (Lakota and Jim Sawdey Smith, “Strongbear” (Mohawk heritage).
The Contemporary Art Gallery started in 2012, exhibits have included: Beading is Breathing, Containers, Reading Native Art, Giona Sezoha G’dakinna – We Paint Our Land, All My Relations, Tatoos, Protection & Warmth, and more.