Design and Values: US National Park Maps in the Twenty-First Century
Part of Vital Signs
Historically, maps produced by the US National Park Service have reflected a commitment to resource protection, public education, and stewardship. By looking at the design evolution of maps from the mid-twentieth century through today, it is possible to see how the values espoused by these maps have changed—and in fact promote an engagement with nature that has little to do with reality. Visitor “interactions” with National Park monuments and sites are, arguably, a myth. This research demonstrates that this myth is manipulated through the design of maps and map-related artifacts such as posters and games, making it possible to characterize today’s National Park Service maps as documents that speak more to marketing than map-making.