May 27, 2009
Museum of the National Park Ranger
Next time you’re in Yellowstone, step back in time at the Museum of the National Park Ranger. The Museum provides an opportunity for Park visitors to learn about the rich history of rangers in the National Park Service. It is housed in the Norris Soldier Station, located at the entrance to Norris Campground. Inside, exhibits depict the evolution of the park ranger profession from its roots in the military in the late 19th century, through early 20th century rangers, and to the present array of specialized duties.
This building was one of the original soldier stations, built in 1908, as an outlying station for soldiers on patrol. Prior to the establishment of the National Park Service (NPS), the U.S. Army protected Yellowstone between 1886 and 1918.
The Museum has several exhibit areas. One side delves into the early administrative history of the Park and includes displays of Army and NPS uniforms and accoutrements, including a buffalo robe, plus re-created rooms portraying a patrol cabin interior and an Army barracks. The other side showcases how the NPS has evolved to include various careers such as law enforcement, firefighting, resource management, and interpretation. The building also houses a small auditorium where visitors can view orientation films.
Be sure to chat with one of the volunteers staffing the Museum when you visit. These volunteers are former NPS employees who worked in a wide range of jobs. In addition to retired rangers, they may include former superintendents, regional directors, educators, facility managers, or just about any other profession in the NPS. Together, they host more than 25,000 Park visitors throughout the course of each summer.
While the Museum is a popular visitor attraction, it is one that even some repeat Yellowstone visitors may have overlooked. We hope that the next time you’re in Yellowstone, you’ll stop by the Museum of the National Park Ranger. Summer hours are from 9 am to 5 pm daily.
Improvements for the Future
The Museum of the National Park Ranger plays an important role in helping visitors learn about and appreciate the history of rangers, yet a lack of funds has prevented this little gem from living up to its full potential.
Now, as part of the Ranger Heritage Initiative, the Yellowstone Park Foundation is seeking donations to help Yellowstone make improvements to the Museum of the National Park Ranger. Funds will allow Park staff to properly curate historical objects, improve the quality of multi-media exhibits, and meet the standards for media accessibility as set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Exhibit Conservation - Park staff have started to assess the current condition of the exhibits on display at the Museum in order to plan for proper curation. Individual objects will be evaluated for aging and deterioration, and their conservation needs will be determined. For instance, the work plan will include specific conservation treatments and restoration techniques for different types of objects such as paper, ceramics and leather.
Assessment of Environmental Conditions - The historic structure that houses the Museum provides a charming and authentic environment for visitors, but it is less than ideal for preserving fragile artifacts. Park staff will evaluate the current environmental conditions of the Museum -- such as humidity, temperature, and light levels -- and make improvements where possible.
Modernization of Audio Visual Exhibits - Currently, an aging video provides visitors a brief history of the national park ranger. The equipment is outdated, and the program does not meet ADA standards for audiovisual media. Through the Ranger Fund, equipment will be updated with touch-screen monitors, better sound systems, and DVD players. A new, more engaging five-minute video program will be produced on the origins and evolution of the national park ranger. It will include captioning, assisted-listening devices, and audio description to better serve visitors with disabilities.
Learn more about the Ranger Heritage Initiative >>
Help all visitors gain better understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the significance of the Park and its rangers. Make a contribution to the Ranger Heritage Initiative today >>