Ceremony marks start of new Lewis & Clark facility

Ceremony marks start of new Lewis & Clark facility Local artist Jeff Freeman describes components of the 20-foot mural he will paint for the new Spirit Mound Lewis & Clark Learning Center at the W. H. Over Museum. by David Lias A small audience at the W. H. Over Museum learned Saturday of plans to locate a new Lewis & Clark Spirit Mound Learning Center at the Vermillion museum.

"This will be a learning center that will be for the tourists that come through. There will be kiosk-type computer, with touch screen, that people will be able to use to investigate things about the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery," said Bob Noiva, president of the Friends of the W. H. Over Museum.

There are also plans to install a projector or other technology that will allow visual components to be projected on a larger format for the benefit of students and other groups who visit the center.

Noiva said that the software that is available at the computer kiosk will also be available over the Internet.

"Students and people who are thinking of coming to the area will be able to access them at home," Noiva said. "Various learning exercises that we have will be able to be accessed by teachers in the classroom."

The idea of making the computer at the center interactive is to give people different options.

"We want the people to decide on their own journey," he said. "What's going to interest an 8 year old is not going to be what interests a real Lewis & Clark buff who is following the trail. By having it interactive, they can choose their own level of what they are interested in.

"We're talking about putting video on it, pictures, sound, so it will really be entertaining," Noiva added. "There also may be some learning exercises for the teachers who bring in their students to the center."

Joel McKinney, a graduate assistant, will design the computer programs and group viewing show. McKinney is a College of Fine Arts student in sculpture and graphic design, with a special interest in computer design.

Exhibits designer Alex Mehaffy, a retired USD mathematics professor, will design and help build the new exhibits that showcase the Lewis and Clark expedition and Spirit Mound.

The Lewis & Clark Spirit Mound Learning Center will open with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Aug. 25, the anniversary of the date that Lewis and Clark visited Spirit Mound.

The Learning Center is funded by a $25,000 grant through the Governor's Office of Economic Development and contributions from the Friends of W. H. Over Museum.

The center will be graced with a 20-foot mural painted by Vermillion artist Jeff Freeman. It will depict Lewis and Clark and other members of the Corps of Discovery climbing Spirit Mound, which is located a few miles north of Vermillion.

The mural, once completed, will be over seven feet high and 21 feet wide with its frame.

"When the explorers reached Spirit Mound, they had already come an incredibly long way, and had a long, long, long way yet to go," Freeman said. "What I've tried to do is capture some of the sense of the depth of the space, the length of the distance, and focus it on their trek to Spirit Mound."

The mural features not only Spirit Mound, but the Missouri River. "It doesn't quite follow course, because for compositional purposes I've had to distort space quite a bit," he said.

The mural will feature insets that depict drawings of the boats the Corps of Discovery used, compass inserts and the explorers' journals.

"I also wanted to capture that amazing landscape we have here," Freeman said. "Not just the real landscape, but a widely stretched, more fantastic landscape. I didn't want to have any mountains in the west, because they couldn't see them from here, and if they could, they actually may have had hope that there would soon be an end to their journey."

The mural also includes plant and animal life recorded in the explorers' journals, including rabbits, antelope, a herd of buffalo, and a large flock of birds.

The learning center will also include space to display artifacts from the era of the Corps of Discovery's journey through the region.

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