The $27 million Old Faithful Visitor Center opened in Yellowstone National Park last week. If you’ve been to Yellowstone, you know that Old Faithful already suffers from the overly-decorated concrete, signs, boardwalks and chains. The geyser has an eerie feeling of being man made, but when, according to the NPS, 4 out 5 of the 3.3 million visitors that came to Yellowstone last year came to see Old Faithful, I guess the old boy’s show brings in the dough. The new visitor center boasts a bookstore, a gift shop, a theater for introductory films, a research area and a 4,500-square-foot exhibition space. It has touch screen televisions that provide an interactive (!) way to learn about that good ol’ geyser that’s right outside.
One of the reasons I get off on talking about national parks and the NPS is because of its primitive aesthetic. In a world of interactive museums and the Internet, it’s fitting that our public lands consist of park Rangers, old maps, dusty visitor centers with 30 year old wildlife pamphlets and WELCOME! signs from the 70s. I guess it’s rather inevitable that they’re going to “freshen up” the parks, but $27 million on a visitor center, specifically one dedicated to Old Faithful with exhibits that look like this, seems a little excessive. But what do I know, eh?
Read more at the NYT.