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National Park Service Transforms Airport into Park Experience

Posted by | 04.21.2016
In honor of the National Park Service Centennial, the baggage claim area at the McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville has been transformed into an immersive visit to nine National Park Service units including Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Obed Wild and Scenic River, Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Stones River National Battlefield, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Manhattan Project National Historical Park, Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Over 18,000 square feet of wall space is now wrapped with innovative, original artwork introducing visitors to these special places. 
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash was joined by National Park Service Deputy Regional Director Barclay Trimble and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero to unveil the newly transformed space at the McGhee Tyson Airport today along with superintendents from the other park units, project designers, and community partners.
“The National Park Service is celebrating 100 years of service which provides us an incredible opportunity to introduce and reacquaint people with America’s most special places in unique places,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “And we couldn’t think of a better place to do that than the McGhee Tyson Airport, where so many people begin their journey in this area!”
The displays creatively reflect the beauty, history, and significance of the National Park Service sites within a few hours drive of the airport. Each display describes unique park features and provides simple wayfinding information to inspire people to include a national park in their visit to the Knoxville area. 
“These engaging murals are a perfect way to remind the nearly 2 million visitors who fly through McGhee Tyson Airport every year of East Tennessee’s stunning natural beauty,” said Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. “The murals are also a wonderful salute to the National Park Service and its first 100 years.”
See Why Consulting and Robin Easter Design staff completed the artwork design, fabrication, and installation. The team created a virtual park visit that flows throughout the baggage claim area by weaving the essence of each park unit into unique, hand-painted original designs. 
"All of us at See Why Consulting and Robin Easter Design were thrilled to work with The National Park Service and McGhee Tyson Airport on this amazing project. We hope this stunning original artwork by local designer Whitney Sanders will inspire people to leave the airport thinking about our parks as an important part of their time in East Tennessee.”
Each of the nine National Park Service units provided funds to support the column displays highlighting individual parks. Great Smoky Mountains Association provided the majority of the funding for the entire project. Since its inception in 1953, Great Smoky Mountains Association has given more than $34 million to support the ongoing educational, scientific and preservation efforts of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Support for the non-profit association is derived primarily from visitor center sales of ranger-approved educational products and membership dues. 
"When Superintendent Cash presented us with the opportunity to support his vision for this Centennial project at the Knoxville airport, we jumped at the chance to help shine a light on these nine park units," said GSMA Executive Director Laurel Rematore. "We join with the NPS to embrace the #FindYourPark initiative and invite all to plan a road trip soon to these unique sites."















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