New film in the works for Bandelier

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By The Staff

Bandielier National Monument will be undergoing a rehabilitation project beginning Aug. 17, but there will be a number of rewards and improvements when it is all over.

One new feature will be a new introductory film for visitors, as a part of a long-term plan for upgrading the interpretive experience at the historic Visitor Center.

“We will close the museum on Aug. 17 but the rest of the building will remain open until mid-September,” Lott said in an announcement this week. “We have a temporary visitor center arriving on Aug. 17 that is intended to create a seamless transition from the old building to the temporary visitor center.”

The Main Loop Trail will remain open although access to the trail will be through the picnic area. Temporary restrooms will be provided in the picnic area. The WNPA bookstore and the Bandelier Trading Post will remain open throughout the construction.”

In mid-September, Lott said, the rehabilitation of the visitor center will begin.

“Bandelier received Congressional funding this year to begin the line-item rehabilitation of our National Historic Landmark visitor center,” said Lott. “Funding will enable restroom capacity to be expanded, asbestos to be abated, accessibility issues to be resolved, outdated wiring and security systems to be replaced, fire suppression systems to be installed and non-historic elements of the building to be removed.”

Entrance station fees are being used to create new exhibits and a high definition film, said Lynn Dominy, Bandelier’s Chief of Interpretation.

“These new exhibits will enable the public to see more of our extensive museum collections and many new things commissioned at the request of the affiliated Pueblos,” she said. “They will also enable people to better understand Pueblo relationships with this landscape.”

She said the new film would give visitors a chance to experience Bandelier in every season and many new angles.

As a part of the project, there will be a new theater, which will add space to the Visitors Center

“Having a theater is going to be so nice,” said Chris Judson, a 33-year veteran park ranger. “The screen is going to be big with nice new chairs in a building that was built to be a theater.”

The film is being produced by John Grabowska, an award-winning documentarian with a number of PBS credits, including “Remembered Earth,” narrated by N. Scott Momaday. Grabowska has a reputation for evocative films.

The new film will replace the slideshow that has been a staple at the monument for 30 years.

“The filmmaker has been filming for well over a year,” Judson said. “We have seen the raw footage and it’s gorgeous.”

“This rehabilitation is expected to last at least nine months,” added Lott. “We are very excited about the new experiences that visitors will be able to have in the rehabilitated visitor center. The bookstore will move out of the lobby into a better space. The new theater will enable the high definition movie to be shown. Ugly non-historic elements will be removed throughout the building to showcase the original architecture of the CCC era visitor center. The new exhibits will help visitors better understand the Pueblo connections to the park and the significance of the cultural resources that they experience on the Main Loop Trail. This entire project is an investment into the protection of the National Historic Landmark visitor center, the quality of the visitor experience, and the interpretation of the Pueblo ties to their ancestral homelands.”

For more information about the visitor center rehabilitation, contact Lynne Dominy at (505) 672-3861 ext. 511 or via e-mail at lynne_dominy@nps.gov.