You are here

Pyramid Lake Cultural Center and Museum

-A A +A
1976, Dennis Numkena. 1997–1998, Ganther, Melby, and Lee. Northwest corner of intersection of NV 446 and 447
  • Pyramid Lake Cultural Center and Museum (Bret Morgan)

The dramatic sweeping forms of the cultural center and museum rise out of the stark desert surrounding Pyramid Lake. Local multicolored stone covers the exterior walls of the round building, which has a curved roof rising to a triangular entry section. Inside is a central area for ceremonial dances, surrounded by stepped seats. The Hopi architect Dennis Numkena designed the structure after winning a national competition. Because the Paiute do not have a tradition of permanent architecture, Numkena relied on universal forms, such as the circle and triangle, and used native materials to reflect the building's connection with the tribe's ancestral land. Compared with much of the contemporary architecture erected on other reservations in Nevada, this structure makes a strong statement for Native American cultural identity.

For reasons that are unclear, the building was not completed in the 1970s and has stood neglected for over twenty years. However, the Paiute received a federal grant in 1997 to complete the building as a center for heritage education for Paiute children and as a visitor center. Ganther, Melby, and Lee of Reno are completing the project, following Numkena's original scheme with some modifications.

Writing Credits

Julie Nicoletta



Julie Nicoletta, "Pyramid Lake Cultural Center and Museum", [Nixon, Nevada], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Nevada, Julie Nicoletta. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, 130-130.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.

, ,