Spring 2003

The American Land Museum at Wendover, Utah

Incidental structures and accidental references along the Utah-Nevada border

The Center for Land Use Interpretation

The American Land Museum is a network of landscape exhibition sites being developed across the United States by the Center for Land Use Interpretation and other agencies. The purpose of the museum is to create a dynamic contemporary portrait of the nation, a portrait composed of the national landscape itself. Selected exhibition locations represent regional land use patterns, themes, and development issues. Within each exhibit location are a number of specified experiential zones with collections of material artifacts in the landscape, landmarks selected from among the field of existing structures.

Wendover, Utah, is the American Land Museum’s regional location in the Great Basin. Beyond the Museum’s Information Center, exhibits can be found among the waste disposal industries, explosives plants, survivability training sites, and weapons test areas that have developed within this broad, geomorphologically self-contained region.

One exhibit area is located in a zone called South Base, south of town, along the state line. South Base is an artificial island of ground, built in a sea of salty mud, on the edge of the expansive flats. The artifacts it contains include familiar and expressive forms, as well as enigmatic and opaque objects. Mythic structures such as labyrinths, tombs, and portals, meet the ephemeral architectures of Hollywood art directors. Incidental structures make accidental references to land art like Downward Blows and The Lightning Field. And glyphs from the last great war meet decayed ramps for launching experiments out into the uncertainty of the landscape void.

Photos from Center for Land Use Interpretation photo archive unless otherwise noted.

Emergency Training Prop.
USGS Photorthographic Quadrangle (detail).
The Quonset.
“Con Air” Film Set Prop: Tower.
Stenciled Statement.
Police Training Prop. Photo Peter Harkawik.
Volatile Gas Containment Vessel Test Area.
Launch Pad Bunker.
Wall Painting.
Southbase View.
Storage Igloo (Casino Lease).
“Desert Base Command” Sign. Photo Peter Harkawik.
“Desert Base Command” Sign (detail). Photo Peter Harkawik.
Launch Ramp Ruin.
Emergency Training Props (temporary).
Earth Displaced by Ordinance Disposal.
“The Hulk” Film Set Props in Dumpsters (temporary).
“Con Air” Film Set Props: Aviation Gauntlet (temporary).
Lightning Test Area, with Rocket Nose Cone.
Police Training Area. Photo Peter Harkawik.

The Center for Land Use Interpretation is a research organization interested in understanding the nature and extent of human interaction with the earth’s surface. The Center embraces a multidisciplinary approach to fulfilling the stated mission, employing conventional research and information processing methodology as well as nontraditional interpretive tools. For further information, see clui.org

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