Celebrating North Dakota’s Rich Heritage

North Dakota Heritage Center

Innovation Gallery: Early Peoples



When the State Historical Society of North Dakota embarked on an expansion of its Heritage Center, the project included a complete redesign of the permanent exhibitions that interpret North Dakota’s history and unique environment. The approximately 8,000-square-foot Early Peoples Gallery is one of three new exhibits that showcase the SHSND’s outstanding collections. It tells a story that spans more than 12,000 years of North Dakota history, from the prehistoric to the modern Native story.


Great Plains Exhibit Development Joint Venture, comprised of Xibitz, Lord Cultural Resources and Taylor Studios, worked in collaboration with stakeholders from the museum, the architect and Native people across North Dakota from five different tribal groups to create this stunning exhibit.


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The professionals at Xibitz were there for us from day one on our large project. When we needed their help to solve difficult design issues they actively worked to come up with solutions that made sense.

—Chris Johnson, Museum Division Director


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[Instilling a sense of pride.

The Early Peoples Gallery fulfills one of the institution’s primary goals: to create a sense of pride in a shared past by using the latest in visitor interpretive techniques, showcasing inventive media, and establishing new and exciting public and educational programs.]


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X: on this project:

• Lead Firm, Great Plains Exhibit
 Development Joint Venture

• Detail Design

• Production & Installation

 Financial & Contract Management

 Project Management

• Contractor Coordination

• Sub-consultant Coordination

• Facility Interface Coordination

• Construction Drawings

• Lighting Design

• Electrical & Media Integration


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This timeline of North Dakota’s history features photographs and objects corresponding with each time period. Other well-known historical events from around the world place the timeline within a broader context.



An interactive map demonstrates historic trade routes.


Visitors have the opportunity to see the skeletons of ancient sea-dwelling creatures in this depiction of their former habitat.

This skeleton of a bison native to North Dakota symbolizes a historically crucial resource for food, tools and clothing for Native Peoples.



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