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Contact: Douglas Murphy, 956-541-2785 ext. 330
During the month of September 2011, visitors to Palo Alto Battlefield will experience a few growing pains. For much of the month, Visitor Center operations will be interrupted as the park installs new exhibits in the building.
The process will begin the last week of August with the removal of the current displays. During the first week of September, park maintenance staff will prepare the room for the arrival of new displays on September 13. Contractors will then require up to three weeks to assemble the new displays and to make them fully operational.
The arrival of new exhibits is a long awaited event. Palo Alto Battlefield began planning for the displays during the construction of the part visitor center. The park originally hoped to unveil them shortly after the opening of the building in 2004. Instead, contract issues, reorganization of the National Park Service, and other issues caused a serious of delays to the project. At last, work resumed on the designs in 2010 and the exhibit producers are now placing finishes touches on the displays.
The installation will necessarily cause some interference. The main exhibit room of the Visitor Center will be closed to visitors for up to five weeks. During that time, access to interpretive media will be limited. Nevertheless, the park will keep the building open and will continue to provide some interpretive displays and the park video during the installation period. Battlefield trails will also remain open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Ultimately, the short period of discomfort will result in a better visitor experience at the park. The current displays were modified to fit the park facilities, and visitors often struggled to understand the organization and arrangement of the various displays. The new presentation will offer a clear focal point and organization that will be immediately apparent to those walking through the building doors. The new presentation will also offer more interactive opportunities, artifacts, tactile elements, and technological features. Most importantly, the display will help visitors better understand the significance of the Palo Alto Battlefield and the importance of the U.S.-Mexican War.
The exhibit was made possible by a generous grant from the Houston Endowment, which funded most of the costs of design and production.