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Yellowstone Association E-Newsletter August 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010 @ 08:08 AM Karen Hood

New Old Faithful Visitor Education Center Opens August 25, 2010
Yellowstone National Park will celebrate the 94th anniversary of the National Park Service on August 25, 2010, with a ceremony opening the new Old Faithful Visitor Education Center at 11 a.m. NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis and top Interior Department officials will join Yellowstone Superintendent Suzanne Lewis at the podium. The keynote speaker will be retired park historian and noted Yellowstone author Paul Schullery.

The 26,000 square foot, $27 million center explains the workings of Yellowstone’s 12,000 geothermal features; introduces visitors to the microorganisms that live in the hot waters; and showcases the research that makes the park a rare living laboratory. A special exhibit area for children lets them explore those themes through interactive, hands-on experiments. “We think a lot of adults will get a big bang out of this space, too,” said Linda Young, chief of interpretation and education. The center also features a new Yellowstone Association Park Store with a large selection of educational books, maps, and more.

The building is designed to achieve a gold level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for its environmental and energy efficient design. It mirrors the roof lines and construction materials of the adjacent Old Faithful Inn. And its two-story wall of windows provides a breathtaking view of the iconic geyser. A Yellowstone Park Foundation contribution of $15 million and $11 million in federal money covered most costs. The Yellowstone Association also provided significant funding towards the new visitor center. This includes funding for the film Symphony of Fire and Water which was developed several years ago specifically for the anticipated new visitor center as well as approximately $500,000 in funding for space and fixtures related to the Association’s educational Park Store which is located in the visitor center lobby adjacent to the theater.

Young invites those who can’t be there to visit the Old Faithful Virtual Visitor Center. It includes some of the interactive videos in the new center and many others, with more being added regularly. “That was one of the things we planned to do from the start,” Young said. “People are really excited to come to the park, and we hope the virtual visitor center will help them stay connected to it.”

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