ribally owned and operated since it opened on Aug. 11, 1998, the Museum brings to life the story of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. It serves as a major resource on the histories and cultures of Native Americans in the northeast and on the region's rich natural history. The Museum is a 308,000-square-foot complex, consisting of permanent exhibits, the Mashantucket Gallery (a gallery for temporary exhibits), classrooms, a 320-seat auditorium, a restaurant, a museum shop and administrative offices. The Research Center houses collections, archives, and archaeology and conservation laboratories where ongoing work from the field is evaluated and studied. Multi-sensory dioramas and exhibits introduce visitors to the history of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the natural and cultural history of the eastern woodlands. Films and videos, interactive programs, archival materials, ethnographic and archaeological collections, commissioned art, and traditional crafts by Native artisans are featured in the exhibits. The building is designed to interact with its surrounding environment while maintaining the ecological integrity of the area. It embraces the tree line and is nestled into the landscape; two of the five levels of the facility are below ground. The 185-foot stone-and-glass tower provides visitors with sweeping views of the swamp and region. The large, circular, glass-and-steel Gathering Space serves as an arrival and event area.