When planning started on Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, noted conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris wanted to create an experience that would connect visitors with the great outdoors. His vision was of a massive, 350,000-sq ft. adventure that used whatever tools and tactics were available to bring the museum vividly to life — including large-scale digital displays and signage.
Nearly 10 years in the making, the Wonders of Wildlife museum’s scale and scope are largely unprecedented, encompassing a facility larger than the famed Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. “It is our shared hope that the tremendous investment of time, energy and resources will have a profound, positive long-term impact on the future of hunting, fishing and conservation in America,” Morris told Ammoland about plans for the museum, which is estimated to have cost $300 million to build.
A core mission of the museum’s design was working out how to bring nature inside in a way that approximated the real experience in the wild. How, for example, could the design help visitors sense what it’s like to watch the Old Faithful geyser erupt, or to emerge around the corner of a trail and see a set of waterfalls at Yosemite?
The design encompassed more than a mile of immersive trails and exhibits, and more than 70,000-sq ft. of immersive wildlife galleries and dioramas. The prime objective of integrating displays and related technology was to ensure that it all enhanced — and never distracted from — the immersive experience of exploration in the wild.