Exterior view of keel boat exhibit space. Photography: Scott McDonald©Hedrich Blessing

Lewis & Clark Visitors Center

Hartford, Illinois

Images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Area: 15,000 square feet

Site & Program: The site is the location of the Lewis and Clark’s winter camp and departure point for their historic journey. The program included exhibits and a movie produced specifically for this Visitors Center.

Design: Nagle Hartray led a design team that included an exhibit designer and a movie producer. Architecture, exhibits and film are integrated to tell the story of the Corps of Discovery’s winter camp.


The building reflects the Corps’ anticipation preparing for the journey and subsequent amazement on the expedition. A visitor’s experience begins with a low-roofed, modest entry. The exhibit experience concludes with a soaring space containing a replica of the Corps’ keel boat. The wedge-shaped form points west and recalls the prow of a ship slicing through the prairie.

The dramatic forms contrast with the nondescript prairie site. The architecture is a marquee for the center.

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