The Center for Land Use Interpretation is the lead agency in the establishment of the American Land Museum, a network of landscape exhibition sites being developed across the United States. The purpose of the museum is to create a dynamic contemporary portrait of the nation, a portrait composed of the national landscape itself.
To establish this far flung museum, the country has been divided into separate zones called Interpretive Units. Each unit is to have a museum location to represent it, providing regional programming for the area it represents. Interpretive Units were created out of the continuous national fabric through an accumulation of criteria, and finally actualized through the process of combining “districts” and “regions.”
Regions are general topographic and land use areas with gradual or transitional boundaries. They generally follow physiogeographic features (such as mountain ranges, and drainage systems), as well as cultural, economic, and historical development patterns (which are often delimited by physiography). Regions could be described as being defined from within, rather than from without, as the edges of these regions are often indistinct, overlapping and dissolving into one another.
Unambiguous boundaries were then drawn around these regions, following the existing political boundaries that separate states. The cluster of states define the District that makes up each Interpretive Unit.
The physical form of the individual museum locations will differ according to site considerations and available development resources. The primary “exhibit” at each location is, naturally, the immediate landscape of the location. As other interpretive exhibits are prepared for the location, they will be installed in structures that reflect the architectural styles of the region, and usually occupying existing structures.
Collectively the individual exhibit sites comprise the American Land Museum, a museum both situated in and made up of the landscapes of America.