After reading “Southwestern Environments as Hyperreality: The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum” by Timothy Luke there are a lot of contradictions and unresolved issues I would love for him to explain. I agreed that the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum romanticized the desert landscape of Arizona perpetuating a cultural landscape myth of exotic mystery emanating from the dirt, rock formations, and cacti. The danger of having visitors or residents in Arizona believe in this hyperreality of an engineered landscape attracts more people to this fragile environment and encourages residential over-development. Bringing more residential and commercial development to the area starkly contrasts with the museum’s desire to promote conservation and environmentalist policies.
Luke seems to be affronted by the museum for Nature itself (or herself). He claims, “if [the] tourists went elsewhere, and if the developers closed out their many construction projects, the Sonoran Desert might well thrive as it did during the four millenia prior to the Arizona territory’s acquisition by the United States of America (162).” This particular quotation sums up many of the issues I had with this chapter. I will try to ignore Luke’s oversight in assuming that only white Americans have ever had any influence on the environment of Arizona, but he even seems to classify humans as non-human nature in this chapter. Luke also fails to offer any solutions on how this unique environment could be interpreted for a wider audience who don’t have the stamina to wander around the desert and fend of snakes for days at a time. Luke made some interesting points about how the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum struggles to live up to its environmental and conservationists aims and the dangers posed by presenting a hyperreality to the public. However, he fails to offer a viable solution (other than shutting down the museum completely) that would help this museum defend the environment it is trying to portray.