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Feb 17th
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Home National & State Parks Other NPs White Sands National Monument Adds New Museum Exhibits

White Sands National Monument Adds New Museum Exhibits

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For the first time in more than 30 years, White Sands National Monument in New Mexico has all new museum exhibits for visitors to enjoy in the park's historic visitor center.

Located just east of Las Cruces, New Mexico, the new state of the art exhibits tell the story of the geology of the world's largest gypsum dune field, the unique plants and animals that have adapted to it, and how humans have used White Sands throughout history.

whitesandsseaAn all new high definition orientation film, entitled "A Land in Motion," ties it all together with stunning cinematography.

The exhibits - three years in the making - were funded through revenue from the park's entrance fees and concession franchise fees. Included in the new exhibits are interactive features for both children and adults.

Kids can make tracks of kit fox and other animals in a sandbox, delve deeper into recent scientific discoveries through a touch screen computer, or explore the Tularosa Basin through a tactile three dimensional map.

The exhibits are fully bilingual with English and Spanish text and are accessible for visitors with disabilities.

One exhibit in particular focuses on the sea life that once existed millions of years ago above what is now New Mexico.

Entitled "An Aquatic Journey: Water and the White Sands," the exhibit details how 275 million years ago, during the Permian Period, a shallow, salty tropical sea covered this area.

This sea rose and fell repeatedly over millions of years, leaving gypsum deposits behind as the water evaporated in the sun. These gypsum layers were eventually uplifted and became part of the surrounding mountains.

And there were sharks swimming over what is now modern New Mexico.

"During the Permian Period, sharks cruised an aquatic world teeming with ancient life forms," the exhibit explains. "Primitive Cephalopods, related to today's chambered nautilus, feasted on fish and other sea creatures. Sponges and corals thrived in the warm, sun-soaked sea."

"New Mexico is a beautiful state with breathtaking scenery from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of the Rio Grande, but White Sand National Monument shows why New Mexico truly is the Land of Enchantment," wrote New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall for the opening of the new showing. "The new exhibits will help all who visit connect with and understand what this special place has to offer."

The visitor center is located on U.S. Highway 70, 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Alamogordo and 52 miles east of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Travelers from Carlsbad Caverns to southern Arizona can follow U.S. 82 through the scenic Sacramento Mountains to reach White Sands National Monument.

The 275-square-mile park contains the world's largest gypsum deposit. Visitors can picnic, play in the dunes or just walk around and relax. Sunset strolls are also held every evening, offering opportunities to see the plants and animals of the dune field. Also popular are the Full Moon Nights, with live music and educational programs.

For more information about White Sands National Monument, visit the Website at
www.nps.gov/whsa/ .

National & State Parks