Elias National Park & Preserve
Copper River Visitor Center, Copper Center, Alaska
project required turning a newly constructed empty building (approximately
30' x 56') into a representation of a glacial riverbed with two
types of riverbanks displaying indigenous flora, fauna and animal
signs. With photomurals on every wall depicting historic and geographic
specifics, as well as graphic and tactile interactives, the exhibit
had to withstand the winter season and temperatures of -40°F.
responsibilities included fabricating and installing the riverbank
surfaces, all tactile flora, fauna and animal signs, and the nunataak.
Along with assisting me with the fabrication and installation
of "my" elements, Color-Ad
produced and installed everything including the cast concrete
tile floor, riverbank structures, custom cabinetry, desks, A/V,
topomap, fiber-optics, graphics, photomurals, wiring, lighting,
The production schedule for this project was extremely tight and
some items were completed only in time to take them with me on
the plane. Therefore, I am thankful I was able to enlist the help
of master fabricator John MacFarlane of Wren Haven Construction
who led the way fabricating root systems and proper earth structure,
and turned me onto Polygem,
the sculpting epoxy used throughout this and many future projects.
also to Dave Hrycun of Fisherman's
Tale, and Rick Krietemeier of Majestic
Animal Creations, both of whom were more than accomodating
and able to supply me with top quality reproductions despite the
demanding schedule. Thanks to Bev & Gina at NPS for ALL their
help, and, as always, thanks to the the good people at Color-Ad
for letting me join them in work and play (after the job was completed,
we made the time to do some touring , to
some pics of my travels, CLICK
on the listed item below
or scroll down to see the images.
The Riverbanks were designed (by Edquist Davis Exhibits, Seattle,
WA) to represent hundreds of miles of river and thousands of feet
in altitude in about 50 linear feet. As you enter the visitor
center you encounter the glacial cutbank with large boulders and
rocks. Rounding the bend you see the smaller rockpiles and more
vegtation representing a lower altitude
further downstream along the accreting bank. Animal signs begin
to be evident and as you progress further along the winding riverbed.
Another eroding bank further yet downstream reveals an otter,
spawned-out salmon carcasses and eagle tracks; finally leading
you to the tundra and displays of historic artifacts.
Down to see more images
the scale drawings of the intended layouts were approved,
the riverbanks were built in sections of plywood bases,
carved styrene foam, fiberglass, and topcoated with polygem
(307 Fr-Lite) and various other materials. Once shipped
to the site the sections were re-assembled, all the animal
signs and elements were embedded, and all the seams were
filled. The rocks and stones at the base were gathered from
the actual river nearby and cemented in place.
animal tracks were embedded in the thickened polygem before
shipping. Specific animal track casts were acquired from
various approved sources and positive forms (right, left,
front, & hind) were created to use as the "feet"
for making the impressions.
nunataak is a rock outcropping in the middle of a glacial
flow that acts an oasis of life amidst the ice. Apparently the rock
type can vary dramatically, and when I was to produce this piece
there was little confirmation on the specifics. Various lichen and
plant life survive among these rocks, as does a small omnivorous
rodent type mammal called a pica, that actually sucks the brains
out of small birds. This part of the exhibit was to represent all
on the thumbnail to view enlargement
small rodent type mammal that lives among the nunataak and a desicated
sparrow models, behind a glass panel inset in the nunataak model.
on the thumbnails to view enlargements.
earliest inhabitants of this harsh region were believed to have
crossed over the Bering Straits. Known as the Late Denali people,
they lived here as far back as 6000 B.P. Later in the archaelogical
record we find evidence of the Northern Archaic people, and later
still the Northern Athabaskan people seemed to have settled this
area. The ancient artifacts in the Park's collection are too valuable
to be displayed in this public exhibit. However, this ancient
history and its evidence was desired to be illustrated. I was
entrusted with these actual ancient obsidian tools to carefully
make molds and cast reproductions for display. Quite a responsibility
in that these artifacts are extremely fragile, priceless, and
definitely irreplaceable. After casting, digital photos were taken
and submitted showing the original artifact alongside the reproduction.
All were approved, but only three were included for display within
on the thumbnail to view all the reproduction submittals
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