Monday, Sep 26, 2005
The formal dedication of the 18,000 square-foot visitor center at Arches National Park occurred on Saturday, September 17th, 2005. NPS Director Fran Mainella, Moab Mayor Dave Sakrison, Grand County Council Chair Jerry McNeely, National Park Foundation Vice-Chair Nancy Bechtle, Managing Director of the Utah Governors Office of Tourism Leigh vanderEsch, and Senator Bennetts Central Utah Area Director Donna Sackett joined Superintendent Laura Joss to cut the ribbon to officially open the visitor center. Over 300 people attended the afternoon event, including at least one person, Juanita Mabery (wife of Rory Slim Mabery), who attended the grand opening of the previous visitor center at Arches in 1960!
The Moab singing group, The Valley Voices, started the event by singing the Star-Spangled Banner, and followed the ribbon-cutting with additional performances. The Moab Taiko Dan Drummers performed several pieces. Refreshments were supplied by Canyonlands Natural History Association and baker extraordinaire Karla Hancock. The premiere of the Discovery Communications film, Secrets of Red Rock followed the ceremony in the 140-seat theater. The film was made possible by a generous grant from the National Park Foundation through the support of Discovery Channel, a Proud Partner of Americas National Parks. Highlighting Arches and Canyonlands National Park, the film enhances visitors understanding and appreciation of the two parks.
New exhibits in the visitor center interpret the natural and cultural history of the park. In the outdoor plaza, bronze sculptures created by Matthew Gray Palmer include a bighorn ram, ewe and lamb, two ravens and two lizards. Indoors are several tall faux rock fins, a pothole with critters, hands-on rock samples of the different formations found in the park, a depositional environment model with rock samples, and several interactive computer programs. Desert Life was created by Bill and Sandy Hood of Grand Junction, CO, and identifies many of the species of plants and animals found in Arches. Hunting Arches was provided by Doug Travers, a dedicated and intrepid arch-hunter from San Antonio, TX; visitors can search for arches by name, location, size, discoverers name, and more. Trip Planners help visitors plan their time, and a Tool Shed features ten NPS employees and the tools they use in their jobs, and includes a short interview with each person.
The architectural firm of VCBO of Salt Lake City, UT designed the building in conjunction with exhibit designers of EDX of Seattle, WA. Cooperation and communication between the two resulted in a building designed for the exhibits, unusual in exhibit planning. Southern Custom Exhibits, Inc. of Anniston, AL fabricated and installed the exhibits. The old visitor center building was incorporated into the new one, saving bricks, waste disposal, and new materials. Desert landscaping surrounds the building, which blends nicely with the surrounding terrain.