USS Mesa Verde Holds Dedication For New Ship Museum
Contact: Tessy Shirakawa, 970-529-4628
Service members, civilians and national park rangers gathered onboard the USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) to attend a ribbon cutting ceremony and museum dedication in honor of Mesa Verde National Park, the ship’s namesake.
Mesa Verde National Park is located in southwestern Colorado, and was established by Congress in 1906, to preserve the works of man.” The park protects over 52,000 acres of land, including nearly 5,000 archeological sites, and over 3 million artifacts in their curatorial collection. 24 contemporary Native American tribes are affiliated with Mesa Verde National Park, and consider the park their ancestral homelands.
“Mesa Verde National Park was dedicated as one of the first twelve UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1978 and was the first cultural site with this designation,” said Larry Wiese, Park Superintendent. “We are honored that the USS Mesa Verde will take the story of this truly significant national park and share it with the world. This is a very exciting moment, seeing the vision of Commanding Officer Capt. Shawn Lobree, come true. The USS Mesa Verde will serve as an ambassador ship interpreting Mesa Verde National Park, Ancestral Puebloan culture, and contemporary Native American culture around the world as the ship makes port visits.”
The project began after Lobree visited the park in 2004. Upon meeting Wiese, and understanding about the significances of the park and associated Native American cultures, he envisioned an onboard museum about the ship’s namesake.
“I’m really impressed and extremely proud about how this has turned out,” said Lobree. “It is amazing to see this spectacular exhibit now sitting in a small space, directly behind the bridge. Dignitaries and visitors around the world will be able to make the connection between this ship and Mesa Verde National Park.”
The design of the exhibit was created by Mystic Scenic Studios and park staff. A section of a cliff dwelling was recreated from reference photos provided by the park. Kevin Simard, designer with the studio, said the exhibit is distinctive for its design, location and construction.
“This is the smallest and most unique exhibit I’ve worked on,” said Simard, who has been doing this type of work for over twelve years. “We’ve made accommodations so the sets are adjustable. They can expand and collapse depending on environmental conditions and in case the ship encounters rough seas and things of that nature.”
The ship’s Chaplain and Museum Officer, Lt. Alan Snyder, said there was a lot of work put into the museum to ensure accuracy and include collaboration with the contemporary tribes. “There are authentic shards of clay pots as well as corn cobs that are more than 700 years old in our museum,” said Snyder. “There was a lot of work put into this exhibit and I’m proud to see how this vision has come to life. This will be a place for the ship to tell the story of Mesa Verde National Park.”
For images, contact Rosemarie Salazar at 970-529-4629.
Did You Know?
On a snowy December day in 1888, while ranchers Richard Wetherill and Charlie Mason searched Mesa Verde’s canyons for stray cattle, they unexpectedly came upon Cliff Palace for the first time. The following year, the Wetherill brothers and Mason explored an additional 182 cliff dwellings.