Some new exhibits have been added to the Salt Pond Visitor Center at Cape Cod National Seashore. One examines the Gulf of Maine ecosystem and how it impacts the national seashore, while the other explores the tribes that lived on the cape.
The exhibit that focuses on the Gulf of Maine and how it influences the natural processes, habitats, plants and animals, and even human events at the seashore replaces an older exhibit in the visitor center that was removed when the center was renovated in the mid-2000s, said seashore Superintendent George Price.
"This new exhibit, with its dramatic colors and interpretive information, provides a geographic context and orientation for visitors to set the stage for the whole national seashore experience," said the superintendent. "We're pleased with the way the new exhibit turned out and believe it will add to the visitor understanding of the national seashore environment and human stories."
In the Salt Pond Museum, the area that previously displayed natural resource specimens was retrofitted for the other new exhibit, People of the First Light. This new section interprets Wampanoag culture and history through artifacts; photographs and art; a partial wetu (home); and oral histories. Cultural specialists from the Aquinnah and Mashpee Wampanoag tribes consulted on the project and prepared several display items. A major theme of the exhibit is that the Wampanoag culture continues to thrive on Cape Cod. The exhibit includes two listening stations with eight interpretive messages by local Wampanoag discussing cultural topics.
"This exhibit is very compelling," said Superintendent Price. "We've been aware that the absence of the Wampanoag story in our museum is a deficiency, and we're happy to now be telling a more complete story of the people on Cape Cod. We're very pleased that the Aquinnah and Mashpee tribes helped shape this project so the exhibit is relevant and accurate."
The exhibits were developed under contract by Split Rock Studios in Saint Paul, MN. Funding was provided by the percentage of beach entrance fees retained by the national seashore. Additional funding for the oral histories came from the donation boxes located in the national seashore's visitor centers.
A grand opening event for the new exhibits will take place on May 14 as part of the national seashore's 50th anniversary celebration.
If you go: Salt Pond Visitor Center is located at the intersection of Route 6 and Nauset Road in Eastham and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The center includes a lobby with expansive views of Salt Pond, Nauset Marsh, and the Atlantic; a museum featuring the park's natural and cultural stories; staff to assist with trip planning, and a store with books, maps, puzzles, games, t-shirts, and 50th anniversary commemorative items. There are short films shown throughout the day. The Buttonbush and Nauset Marsh Trails, and the Nauset Bike Trail are located nearby. For more information on Cape Cod National Seashore programs call 508-255-3421, or check the park's website, www.nps.gov/caco.