National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum Liichkoshkomo Outdoor Exhibit

“The JE Dunn approach to working with the owner and architect is that we are all a team; we’re in this together. I never ever heard anyone say to me, “You have a problem.”  It was always, “We have an issue we need to solve.”

James W. Martin
Director of Design and Construction
Chief Operating Officer

Liichokoshkomo, (Lee-chi-Kosh-ko-mo) which is Chickasaw for “Let’s Play,” is the name of the outdoor educational exhibit addition to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. It is one of few places to learn about Native American homes. It provides a place to learn from the authentic representations of diverse Tribal cultures from across the United States. Each dwelling provides an accurate, detailed depiction from the communities, including each Tribe’s unique characteristics and iconography.

  • Even though the concept was developed a decade before construction started, much of the design elements and decisions were decided as the project unfolded.
  • There was very little historical data to rely on, so the design-build team (JE Dunn and Benham) had to be extremely flexible, transparent, and collaborative as they worked through constructability challenges while meeting the overall schedule.
  • There was a high focus on ensuring the exhibit authentically and accurately represented Native American culture that authenticity specialists were immersed in the decision making and gave frequent direction to the design-build team.

All the dwellings were reviewed and approved on-site with the museum and the respective Tribal Representatives. In one situation, the initial Kiowa Tipi review resulted in an inaccurate depiction of the conical geometry of the structure that was not noticeable until after it had been erected near the end of project. Our team disassembled the structure and made the necessary adjustments that adhered to the precise cultural requirements.


These were the types of intricate work we managed throughout the project while still meeting the schedule. It’s hard to imagine being successful on this project without constant and open coordination between the builder, designer, and client.

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