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Contact: Andy Fisher, (520) 733-5139
Tucson, AZ – Saguaro National Park and Friends of Saguaro National Park officially opened the new bilingual exhibit collection in the Rincon Mountain Visitor Center on Thursday, March 12.
"This project was a long time coming," according to Andy L. Fisher, Chief of Interpretation."The Rincon Mountain Visitor Center was built in the 60s and the previous exhibits were original to the building –it was time for an update".
The project began nearly eight years ago with an agreement between the park and their primary park partner, Friends of Saguaro National Park (FOSNP), to make updating the exhibits a park priority.Fundraising began and the park was ready in 2012 to officially begin planning and building the new collection.
Part of planning the new exhibits included holding listening sessions with various community groups to understand which stories were important to tell in the limited space and what kinds of techniques the park should be using to tell those important park stories.Fisher added, "We heard clearly that this was our opportunity to not only update the exhibits but ensure they were accessible to all members of our community"
The new exhibits are bilingual, English and Spanish, and very tactile to enable younger audiences, those with a learning preference for playing, and anyone with a visual impairment. The park is currently producing an audio description for the entire exhibit collection to enhance the visitation experience for the blind community.
The main story behind the exhibits is that Saguaro National Park is more than a desert.Natural history of saguaro cactus is front and center, but there are stories of the people who called the area home, current and relevant learning that continues in the park through science, wilderness and the park's wild places, as well as ecology in the higher reaches of the Rincon Mountains.
"We could not have done this project without the help of the Friends of Saguaro National Park," according to Darla Sidles, Superintendent, "We were able to raise some of the money with federal funds, but it took the dedication of our Friends Group to work directly with the National Park Foundation, Diamond Ventures and Rocking K Development, Jim Click Automotive Group, Southwest Gas, Zuckerman Family Foundation, Milton and Adele Ward, hundreds of other FOSNP members, as well as Western National Parks Association to bring the whole project together".
Many of these Friends and supporters, including Robert Newtson, Executive Director, Lisa Harris, President, and other members of the Board of Directors and Advisory Board of the Friends of Saguaro National Park were present at the ribbon cutting on Thursday.Also present was artist Gail Roberts and the studio team from Gail T. Roberts Studio who created the clay tile mosaic displayed outside the front doors of the Rincon Mountain Visitor Center, designed to thank additional supporters of the park and FOSNP.