Sunday, July 12, marks the celebration of the Horace M. Albright Visitor Center Grand Re-opening and Dedication. After closing the Albright Visitor Center in the fall of 2013, crews reconfigured the building for better accessibility and retrofitted it for seismic activity, as well as created new exhibits.
The dedication ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. with speakers, a color guard, a ribbon cutting, and refreshments leading up to the grand re-opening of the facility to the public. Speakers include National Park Service Intermountain Regional Director Sue Masica, Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk, Board Chair of the Yellowstone Association Clare Campbell, and keynote speaker Bob Barbee, former Superintendent of Yellowstone.
The visitor center—formerly single officers’ quarters for the United States Army—received a full interior renovation, according to a statement released by the park’s public affairs office. Crews stripped down walls to original masonry, then stabilized, insulated and refinished them. Windows, doors and fireplaces preserve the historic character, while new exhibits help orient visitors to Yellowstone and provide information for a safe and enjoyable trip by visitors of all abilities.
The new exhibits invite visitors to learn about Yellowstone’s rich cultural heritage, the struggles that took place here, the establishment of the world’s first national park in 1872, and the immense challenges that followed. Exhibits take visitors through the arrival of the United States Army and the 1916 establishment of the National Park Service. The new exhibits also illustrate the relationships of Yellowstone wildlife to each other and their home in this mountain landscape. Visitors have an opportunity to learn about the Mammoth area’s active hot springs and how and why they differ from other thermal features in the park.
Visitors will also find a dynamic orientation area with interactive displays for enhanced trip planning information; park rangers offering educational talks and tours; and a backcountry permit office where camping, boating and fishing permits are obtained. In addition, the Yellowstone Association, the park’s nonprofit cooperating association, funded an expanded bookstore operated in partnership with the National Park Service.
The visitor center was named in honor of Horace M. Albright, who helped to found the National Park Service in 1916, almost 100 years ago. Albright was the first National Park Service Superintendent of Yellowstone (1919–1929), and went on to become the second Director of the National Park Service. The re-opening of the Albright Visitor Center is the kick-off event in Yellowstone to celebrate the National Park Service Centennial in 2016.
Swank Enterprises was the general contractor for the project. NPS staff developed the content for the exhibits, which were designed and installed by Pacific Studios. The Yellowstone Association provided grant money for the exhibit design and fabrication. Renovation of the visitor center was funded by the NPS.