Museums serve significant functions in our society: protecting information about the past, promoting learning, and challenging people to broaden their views and interests. Despite this important role, many museums are currently facing attendance, publicity, and budget-related struggles. This thesis looks at museums in the San Diego area in order to explore how museums can be effective in interacting with their communities, and resulted in ideas on how museums can engage a greater part of the population, particularly minority groups and those who have not attended museums in the past. The research was conducted through museum visits, interviews with museum professionals and community members, and a review of the literature to determine what approaches have been successful for other museums. This research is significant because an ethnographic approach can help museums to interpret the quantitative data that results from visitor surveys and similar data collection techniques. It is also important to recognize that museums not only impact those who attend them, but also the greater community. In a country that is facing ever greater polarization, and a potential loss of federal funding for the arts, museums could be an important source of support for their communities. Once completed, this research will be used to help establish a new museum at the Nathan Harrison site on Palomar Mountain.