On May 15, 2012, we visited The National Museum of Wildlife just outside of Jackson Hole, WY. The museum design was quite impressive and the architecture was both unique and unassuming. Upon arriving, our first impressions were that the museum was built from natural materials that blended well with the building’s environment. The building itself had a low profile and fit into the surrounding landscape subtly. As we entered, we gathered that the building was constructed to emulate a sense of the natural world and discovery. The artwork inside was also incredible and we believe the target audience to include conservationists, art enthusiasts, and tourists. We also believe that this museum serves as an important implement to engage the public to learn, be inspired, and strengthen their connection to the natural world. Originally museums were intended to serve as a place to house artifacts and works of art and preserve them for future study and appreciation. The museums of today are evolving to serve as a place of education and exposure to themes that function to give each individual their own subjective experience to take away. This educational and interpretive experience really works well to engage the public and potentially enlighten them on different perspectives of certain issues, including, in this case, wildlife conservation.
A specific exhibit that touched us personally was the museum’s children’s exhibit. This section is special because it is an important step in protecting the future of Yellowstone and all natural ecosystems, which starts with our youth. Seeing a whole portion of the museum dedicated to fostering children’s imagination and strengthening their connection to nature is a positive step to the future of environmental accountability and awareness. The artwork of the children was also a good example of how the beauty of nature and other artists’ amazing works are inspiring kids to interpret nature for themselves and recreate their own versions of natural wonders.
The National Wildlife Museum is a place that has multiple functions but most importantly it shines a new light on the essence of Yellowstone. The exhibits and design of the facility were intended to create an opportunity of discovery and self-interpretation. There is great meaning behind the works of art and they represent an external expression of artists’ genuine passion and desire to inspire other people to learn from them and carry on with new art and conservation efforts. It is vital that this aspect of a museum helps others learn and understand this frame of analysis because Yellowstone is one of the last genuine wildernesses left in the United States. The future of conservation in this incredible land relies on fostering our youth’s imagination and attachment to wildlife and the environment. As we continue to create opportunities to target this audience we are solidifying the future of this land through education as we pass the responsibility of conservation management to well prepared, educated, and environmentally connected youth.