Culture at the Crossroads
IT'S SAID THAT THOSE WHO FORGET THE PAST ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT. But for Adventure Guide Jude Carino, repeating the past is all a part of the fun! As Director of Casper's National Historic Trails Interpretive Center. Carino knows a thing or two about Western heritage-particularly the trails that led settlers through the Wild West over a century ago. With the Oregon, Mormon, California, and Pony Express Trails all converging in Casper, "every one of the [emigrants] walked through what is now Casper; every person saw Casper Mountain as we see it today."
If history is your passion, a visit to the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center is a must. The center features seven galleries, each relating to the trails' emigrants, as well as the Native Americans who inhabited the land. Their stories are presented through award-winning multimedia presentations, life-like dioramas, and interactive experiences-you can experience a virtual ride across the North Platte River in a covered wagon! But the Trails Center is just one of many museums that make Casper a superb classroom. "People must go see Fort Caspar" Carino asserts. The fort, which tarted as a trading post in 1859, is an open air museum today, featuring a brand new indoor museum as well as renovated wooden buildings and a even a wooden stockade!
When you're ready to slide back into the present, Carino reminds us that Casper has several modern offerings. "This town has amazing facilities," Carino gushes. Pick any furry critter, any moment in history, or even your favorite artist, and you'll find a museum in Casper to go along with it. "It doesn't matter what you want to learn," Carino grins, "you can learn it here in Casper."
Carino recommends starting with The Nicolaysen Art Museum and Discovery Center "Art lovers of the world come and see it!" With over 25,000 square feet of space and nine galleries, you'll want to block out a few hours to take it all in. Past shows have highlighted the works of Andy Warhol and Carol Swinney, and if you're lucky you'll catch an auction, art show or festival during your visit.
There's also the Tate Geological Museum, which boasts over 3000 fossil and mineral specimens, including dinosaurs! Or, if you prefer slightly more modern flora and fauna, be sure to drop by the Werner Wildlife Museum and the Audubon Center at Garden Creek. Each of these facilities offers a unique experience with local wildlife, from galleries of mounted specimens to actual habitat exploration and hiking. The Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum offers a look through history with the preservation, collection of, and exhibit of artifacts, uniforms, memorabilia, personal and historic records related to all of the military conflicts in which residents of the United States have participated.
Not all of museum experiences are limited to the daytime. The Casper Planetarium hosts a variety of programs, literally depending on how and when the stars align! Another favorite for kids and parents alike is The Science Zone. "It's very hard to find ways to engage children in a learning situation," Carino explains, "but the Science Zone has done it." Some of the excitement includes the Bubble Zone, an entire room dedicated to making awesome bubbles, and the Zoo Zone, which showcases live reptiles, spiders and mammals from all over the world.
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