Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Museum Studies, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Cynthia A. Conides, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History and Museum Studies

First Reader

Nancy A. Weekly, M.A., Lecturer of History and Museum Studies


Museums are and have been engaged in a paradigm shift. Much has been written about the social roles of museums and many in the field have sought to define museums, taking a position on why the museum exists, who it is for, and why it continues. Is the museum a temple or a forum? I wondered why it could not be both— and more—more inclusionary, more participatory, and more reflective of community. Could this be the museum of the future? This project explores how a museum transforms both physically and theoretically by applying an educational mission onto a hypothetical museum: Second Nature Prairie Community Museum. I used the educational approach gaining popularity in the K-12 system called place- and community-based education as the basis of the museum’s mission which directed the design and became the scaffolding for the museum plan. I created a name for the museum, the logo, and the branding. By adaptively reusing an abandoned big box structure, I designed the physical interior space of the museum employing a preliminary interior design process to schematically arrive at public and private spaces that maximized learning opportunities. Collections, exhibits, and programs were developed including the reclamation of a natural ecosystem: tallgrass prairie, the largest exhibit and teaching tool. The project is process oriented and the face of the traditional museum changed as I explored aspects of museum planning that resulted in theoretical museum design concepts and positioned Second Nature as a future direction for museums.


Please read concurrently with supplemental graphic slides.

Hicks, Erin - slides.pdf (8763 kB)
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