Project overview: Forge plans to rejuvenate the nearly 100-year-old Yosemite Museum and the adjacent visitor center building, to create a vibrant educational hub in western Yosemite Village.
How your support helps: When the Yosemite Museum opened to the public in 1926, it became the first structure in the National Park System built specifically to serve as a museum. The nearly 100-year-old building exemplifies the “rustic style” of national park architecture, with a stone and wood edifice that blends in with surrounding cliffs and trees. The museum also symbolizes the early and continuing role of philanthropy in Yosemite and other national parks: In 1923, the Yosemite Museum Association formed to manage funds for the building’s construction. That group, the first nonprofit cooperating association in the NPS, inspired dozens of similar park–partner organizations and lives on today as Yosemite Conservancy.
As the Yosemite Museum’s centennial anniversary approaches, park leaders are embracing an opportunity not only to celebrate the milestone, but also to ensure the museum remains a welcoming, relevant and innovative educational space for decades to come.
In 2021, your support will fund initial planning work for a multiyear project to integrate the museum with an adjacent building: the Valley Visitor Center, which will be ready for a new role, once key visitor resources, such as trip-planning, shift to the new Yosemite Valley Welcome Center at the other end of Yosemite Village.
With your help, park staff and outside experts will evaluate options for refreshing both buildings, and will develop initial designs for spacious areas that can host a variety of displays (including the visitor center’s donor-funded climbing exhibits), interpretive programs and an expanded Conservancy bookstore. Park crews will also move some documents and objects from the Yosemite Museum building to a safe storage facility outside the park, ensuring the long-term protection of historical materials while freeing up additional exhibit space.
Your gifts will propel an effort to ensure a bright future for the Yosemite Museum and for the Valley Visitor Center, as both buildings take on new lives as modern, inviting homes for learning and exploration in the heart of the park.
Project partner: Yosemite National Park.