US National Parks today face mounting challenges in attracting audiences and maintaining our nation's historic natural reserves. Van Alen Institute teamed up with the National Parks Service in a design competition called National Parks Now to reimagine the future of our evolving experience at National Park sites in the Northeast. Four finalists have been announced, and each have been awarded $15,000 to work alongside Park superintendents, Advisory Committee Members and local stakeholders in identifying the specific narratives that define the celebrated history of each site:
Team Wayward / Projects will create a symbiotic partnership model capitalizing on the existing audiences and curatorial resources of prominent cultural institutions to reinterpret histories and reinvigorate Sagamore Hill National Historic Site (Oyster Bay, NY).
Steamtown National Historic Site (Scranton, PA) is one of the world’s most important monuments to the steam locomotive. FORGE proposes to weave together stories and information in order to root Steamtown within the larger American cultural landscape.
For Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park (Paterson, NJ), a historic birthplace of textile manufacturing, a team led by MMP and the Yale School of Art will work with high school students and local stakeholders to explore retrofitting the park to engage the city, retelling the site’s history to engage contemporary audiences, and representing the site to new publics.
A team led by the Rhode Island School of Design and Principal and Ultramoderne will work with students to look at introducing site-specific, contemporary artistic practices to Weir Farm National Historic Site (Ridgefield, CT), the summer estate of the artist Julian Alden Weir, in order to develop new perspectives on the site and the region’s history and ecology.
The announcement of the winning team will be made in Spring 2015, with prototypes set for installation in the Summer. The progressive research produced in the National Parks Now competition engages with fast-evolving technologies, regional contexts, and audience expectations, serving as a potential platform for the next level of the National Park experience.
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Photo Credit: Van Alen Institute