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Travel & Tourism

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by Gary Ellison

The schematic design for the American National Fish and Wildlife Museum and Aquarium was presented at the museum's board of director's meeting Jan. 28. The presentation was made by Peter Kuttner and his staff from Cambridge Seven Associates, architects for the project. Through full-color drawings and scale models the visitor experience was illustrated.

The museum and aquarium will be built at the north end of Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World at Sunshine and Campbell. It will angle toward a small lake near the intersection. The main entrance will face northwest and will be accessed by a bridge over a small stream.

Once inside, the visitor will ascend an escalator to the second floor where tickets are purchased and they can visit one of the changing exhibit galleries. Then the visitor enters the museum proper and embarks on a "walkway through the woods" at treetop level on a wooden boardwalk surrounded by living and artificial trees in the middle of a re-created "slice" of the Ozarks.

They will see birds in the trees and a large waterfall beyond. The walkway has several overlooks to view and learn about waterfowl and game birds. Moveable scopes will allow close-up viewing of individual birds.

Next, the visitor enters the Ozarks Hills Habitat, where limestone bluffs and caves surround a deep coldwater pool and terrestrial animal exhibits. In the central habitat space visitors will see live river otters, beavers, fish, bobcats and foxes in naturalistic settings.

Side galleries will contain special exhibits that explain the roles hunters and fishermen have had in the conservation of natural habitats, as well as in-depth views of animals that are part of our natural resources.

After viewing the upper-level galleries, visitors will descend an escalator that goes through the middle of the beaver dam, with windows permitting underwater viewing of the beaver and bass on the right and otters on the left.

On the lower level there is a wide angle viewing window at the bottom of the otter pool, and a curved floor-to-ceiling acrylic window in the aquarium's largest exhibit, the 200,000 gallon beaver and bass community pond. Side galleries hold the museum's fish collection, antique fishing gear, and interactive exhibits that teach how to tie a fly and learn to fish. Beyond the Ozarks canyon is the large saltwater tank and the field station/lab.

Visitors go through the Making Camp gallery then enter Tumbling Creek Cave on a narrow path re-created from the underground laboratory near Protem. The cave holds cavefish, crayfish, cave salamanders and a colony of live bats.

Visitors exit the cave into the Rivers and Streams gallery that was seen from the boardwalk at the beginning of the tour. The stream will be divided into three sections: chilled upland stream with trout; lowland river with catfish, walleye, sturgeon, gar, paddlefish and other typical species; and the stillwater spring-fed pond with fish, turtles and waterfowl.

The concluding exhibits will focus on conservation of wild animal life of North America through displays from nonprofit conservation organizations and the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Following approval of the schematic design, Cambridge Seven Associates will begin the six- to eight-month task of preparing working drawings, according to board president Dr. John Moore. Ground breaking is expected by late summer or early fall this year, with the grand opening scheduled mid-summer 2001.

(Gary Ellison is president of the board of directors of the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau.)

PHOTO CAPTION:

Cambridge Seven Associates presented full-color drawings to the board of the wildlife museum at Campbell and Sunshine.[[In-content Ad]]

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