The Interpretive Center of Tomorrow
Published02/21/2012 by Bernie Paul
The Interpretive Center of Tomorrow
I first visited the Interpretive Center the summer of 2000. As I remember, the only exhibit area was in the original building. As I’m looking at the exhibits, this woman quietly approaches me and starts telling me about the things I’m looking at. At first I was concerned that she was spending so much time with me. What was so special about me? That woman was Gene Woodwick and Gene makes all people she is around feel they are special.
During the past 12 years I have volunteered, been an OSICA Board Member, a member of the Ocean Shores Interpretive Center Operations Committee (OSICOC) and paid staff as a Docent. With the change that is happening now, I’m waiting to see where I’ll fit in next.
I held a position on the OSICOC during their planning and building of the last addition. It was during that time that I started forming a vision of what the Interpretive Center could be. Today, OSICA is the governing board; now it is OSICA’s vision for the Interpretive Center.
When approaching the Interpretive Center, it would be a rather large elevated two story building resembling an Indian Log House surrounded on three sides by a small forest with a lighthouse attached to the front of the building. It would be built with modern building materials making it relatively low maintenance exterior. As the Center is today, first time visitors will be surprised at what is in store for them inside.
Entering through the lighthouse, under the building, would be the outdoor exhibits with a gently sloping ramp going through the exhibit taking you to the first floor. As you enter, the first floor would have a reception area with perhaps a whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling and an impressive bookstore. Off to one side there would be a small auditorium to show movies, have guest speakers and be available for small community functions. Somewhere close by, would be a private volunteer/staff lounge. As you go through the state of the art exhibits with not only physical hands on, but also with interactive media making it the ultimate Interpretive Center experience. There would be docents and volunteers throughout, explaining and answering questions; making people feel special. Adjacent to the Reception there would be an elevator to take you to the top of the weather proof lighthouse. The lighthouse would have a 360 degree view with a fully functioning weather station, viewing telescopes and interpretive information of what you are looking at.
What about the second floor that I skipped over? The second floor would have fully equipped offices, a fully equipped large class room and adequate storage. There would be office space available for other organizations like NOAA, Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, Olympic National Marine Sanctuary, Washington Coast Sustainable Salmon Partnership, Smithsonian, Seattle Aquarium, University of Washington, etc so they could have a presences. The list is endless of the agencies that visit the coast that would use temporary or permanent office space which would help support the Center. What better place than the Interpretive Center.
The Interpretive Center Future
At this point I imagine many of you are rolling your eyes and think “can he be for real?”. Well, sometime this fall I was in the restaurant at the Ramada Inn listening to a John Denver Tribute singer when I was approached by David Spooner from “imadmedia”, whom I barely know. David shared with me his vision of what the Interpretive Center could be. He equated it to the Experience Music Project (EMP) museum in Seattle. You know what? My initial reaction was to roll my eyes and think “are you crazy?”. I gave it a couple seconds of thought and got excited because someone else had an even bigger vision and totally different idea than mine which made my vision seem even more feasible. The more I thought about it the more I liked David’s vision. Are you listening Paul Allen?
Because I had only been to the EMP once shortly after it opened I decided to go online and reacquaint myself with the EMP. I discovered the EMP is a 501(c)3 nonprofit museum same as OSICA. OSICA is part of that same nonprofit community. OSICA being part of the nonprofit community will also help insure the future of the Interpretive Center.
The Interpretive Center has a mission shared by all, however it needs a vision that is bigger than any one person. What the Interpretive Center is today is a small part of what Gene Woodwick envisioned it to be. Some of what is in my vision was inspired by Gene. OSICA should have a vision for the Interpretive Center the world will buy into.