by Jennifer Kvapil and Hugh McDonald, Producers January 13th, 2022
For the past two years, Ideum has been working closely with the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge and the surrounding community to create interactive exhibits for the Refuge’s new visitor center–and we’re excited to announce that the center will be opening to the public later this year!
Valle de Oro is the southwest’s first urban wildlife refuge and serves as an urban oasis for both wildlife and people, offering a unique environmental education and recreation opportunity in a highly populated area while promoting environmental conservation.
Ideum’s role in the project was to collaborate with the local community to design, build, and install a suite of interactive exhibits for the visitor center that would connect people to nature, the refuge, and each other. Ultimately, we worked with Brycon Construction and Formative Architecture to fill the exhibit space with a mix of digital and mechanical interactives, infused the exhibits and space with local art, and crafted a comfortable gathering space to encourage visitors to reflect on and discuss this uniquely rich environment.
The exhibits present stories of the refuge’s history, biology, and personal impact and responsibility through art, artifacts, and interactives. A centerpiece exhibit, Life Zones of the Rio Grande, includes stunning artwork created especially for the center and layered sculptures and soundscapes demonstrating the diversity of species found in the region. Even the center’s washrooms were envisioned as learning spaces, with digital displays providing information about water use and conservation within the washroom mirrors!
Community involvement and inclusivity were key to the success of this project. The creation of the refuge and the completion of the visitor center have been critically important accomplishments for Albuquerque’s South Valley community. Over the years, the area has hosted an oversized proportion of the city’s industry, suffered environmental injustices, and been challenged by poverty. It’s also a resilient agricultural community deeply connected to the land that has made an impact on issues of environmental justice at local and national levels. The Ideum team worked closely with local residents to develop exhibit ideas and ensure that the community was accurately represented and these experiences were accessible to all.
We will be excited to share a range of stories, photos, and videos about the development of these exhibits in coming weeks. Stay tuned for most posts on our website!