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Yellowstone Association E-Newsletter July 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 @ 11:07 AM Karen Hood

Summer Visitors Can Peek Behind the Scenes of Yellowstone’s Archives and Collections

Want to see a part of Yellowstone National Park that only a few hundred visitors see each year? Then head indoors on a Tuesday or Thursday morning in summer to take a guided tour of the Heritage and Research Center in Gardiner, Montana.

The 32,000-square-foot, sandstone-colored building was completed in 2004 to provide space for academic research and the 5.3 million items in Yellowstone’s archival, manuscript, objects, and specimen collections. That’s more items than are contained in the collections of Yosemite, Great Smoky Mountains, and Grand Canyon National parks combined.

Yellowstone has more because it is one of nine affiliates-and the only national park affiliate-of the National Archives. That means the park can keep its archives on site rather than sending items away for storage, said museum curator Colleen Curry.

Visitors who take the Heritage and Research Center tour are escorted through a series of temperature-controlled rooms to view some of the park’s top treasures, including a letter from President Theodore Roosevelt congratulating army soldiers on catching a poacher, a cougar pelt, original Thomas Moran field sketches, and a note left in a flagpole finial by four men who helped build the Old Faithful Inn (they noted how cold it was and how much they drank). Visitors also learn about how the most fragile items are preserved.

“People on the tour get to see an aspect of the park that’s like a secret of Yellowstone most people don’t get to see,” Curry said. “We really do encourage folks to visit us.”

Free tours are offered at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursday through September 9. Participation is limited to 10 people per tour; reservations are recommended. Call 307-344-2662. Lobby exhibits can be viewed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

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