Less than an hour south of Albuquerque, this refuge is one of the largest in the lower 48 states, most of which is unmanaged wilderness. Since much of the refuge is inaccessible to visitors, Malone’s task in designing the new visitor center exhibits was to ‘bring the outdoors in’ and provide a sense of scale and scope to this vast, 230,000 acre refuge.
Realistic scenic re-creations of various habitats – including wetlands, plains, woodlands, and desert – provide a ‘slice of life’ for visitors and highlights critical plants and animals in each area. Visitors can watch a roadrunner race around a classic zoetrope, listen to the sounds of the great plains, and view a custom animated video that brings the refuge to life. Utilizing the existing, updateable library of hidden camera photographs from around the refuge, visitors can also catch unique glimpses into the diversity and behaviors of many animals that would otherwise be unseen by people. These slideshows surround a large topographic map of the refuge, marking the locations of the cameras and highlighting the habitat distribution on the refuge. Other areas feature archaeology, geology, wildlife research programs, and a new visitor contact desk and gift shop.