Trailside Museums

The museums at Fishing Bridge, Madison Junction, and Norris Geyser Basin were designated National Historic Landmarks in 1982 because their exaggerated features and organic forms exemplify rustic design in the national parks and served as models for hundreds of park buildings constructed during work relief programs of the 1930s. As envisioned by the chairman of the American Association of Museums, Hermon Bumpus, they also established the idea of "trailside museums" where visitors could learn about an area within a park. Bumpus regarded national parks as “roofless museums of nature” with unlabeled exhibits and the trailside museum as the place to provide the labels. Their National Register nomination described the trailside museums as “a perfect solution for an architecture appropriate to the outdoors: informal through the use of natural materials and horizontal lines,” but with “a strength of design and heavy-handed expressions” that “suggested the smallness of man in relation to nature.”