The master naturalist imagined: Directed movement and simulations at the draper museum of natural history

Eric Aoki, Greg Dickinson, Brian L. Ott

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The fifty-mile descent from the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park into Cody, Wyoming, is, by the standards of the West, short. But the scenery is breathtaking. Deep canyons, a rushing river that has carved caves in the rocks over millennia, rising mountains, jutting cliffs, and soaring eagles vie for our attention as we guide our rental car around the sharp curves. In our three visits as researchers to Cody and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center (BBHC) from Fort Collins, Colorado, we had never arrived at the BBHC from the east entrance of Yellowstone. On our final journey to Cody, we took the extra time to drive from the BBHC to the east entrance of the park and back again. Journeying through rustic mountainsides, around blue-toned lakes, and past bighorn sheep grazing along the western roadside, we arrived back at the Draper Museum of Natural History- the most recent of the five museums of the BBHC-having traversed the ecological wonders of nature. We had experienced the gusting winds and voluminous skies-skies complete with moving clouds that rustled up like cowboy dust upon the rugged land (see figure 8.1). We were quiet during our drive back to the Draper, for there were vast landscapes, wild animals, and the hypnotic intrigue of nature to attend to, seen mostly from behind the protective glass of our car. This trip down the mountain to the museum functioned like a transformative channel that moved us from the awe of nature in the great outdoors to the awe of nature (re)created in the great indoors. With the humility of having immersed ourselves in the sublimity of nature, a basic question became central to our journey both outdoors and indoors at the Draper: What is our connection with nature?1 This question regarding our connection to nature is at the heart of the museum's mission. The museum is designed "to encourage responsible natural resource stewardship by promoting increased understanding of and appreciation for the relationships binding humans and nature in the Greater Yellowstone Region."2 The museum's rhetoric emphasizes "stewardship" of the earth's resources, urging visitors to see the earth as theirs to control and use.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPlaces of Public Memory
Subtitle of host publicationThe Rhetoric of Museums and Memorials
PublisherThe University of Alabama Press
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9780817356132
StatePublished - 2010


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