Saturday, April 18, 2015

Frequently asked question: When will you open?

-from the Director

Archaeology section- under development
"When will you open?" is a question we have been getting a lot lately. Currently, we are installing the casework for Phase I and Phase 2 of our exhibit. This will take 3 weeks.  Though this is a lot like installing furniture, it is big furniture, and just like at your house, it also requires a lot of painting and wallpapering.  After installation, museum staff will have three weeks to complete painting, put back ceilings, and do a deep cleaning.

After the rocks and casework are installed and the museum is cleaned up, we will be installing interactives, media, and software. This entails setting up computers and LCD projectors and requires three more weeks to make sure everything is installed properly and running correctly.  After all this, we will prepare artifacts for mounting and installation. This is the most complicated and time consuming step that museum staff will be doing. This will take most of the summer.

Painting and protecting rocks
A Borrego Sheep & mountain lion in the new exhibit

Phase 3 of the exhibit will cover the geology of Imperial Valley, and we are hoping that there will be public support to finish our exhibit sooner rather than later. If this is the case, we will complete the final design for Phase 3 in the fall and install these components this winter. This would allow us to have an official "grand opening" in the spring of next year.

Until then, we are planning a series of rolling soft openings for our members and a few for the public as exhibit software is tested and comes fully online or as artifacts get installed in specific cases.

We are not taking the traditional approach to opening a new museum where visitors don't see anything until a grand unveiling. We have had people come in the building throughout the process and many have seen the behind-the-scenes process that goes into building a permanent museum exhibit.  We want our visitors to feel involved every step of the way, and feel pride and ownership in a museum that they have watched grow into something truly special.

This excerpt is from "Land of Extremes: Desert Museum: Behind the scenes of new exhibit." by Neal V. Hitch. Imperial Valley Press. April 18, 2015. For the full article, see today's Imperial Valley Press.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Water is Life Leak widescreen 30 sec

From the Director:

Today, the installation team from Weldon Exhibits began installing the media and interactive components of the Land of Extremes exhibit. The Habitats in Flux exhibit will be an area where we show six desert animals or habitats that are changing. It includes 30 seconds of video of the ocean (there is a reason you find oyster beds in the Yuha Desert), 30 seconds of big horn sheep, and we just now finished the 30 seconds of clips edited from the trail camera that we have had out on one of our leaky faucets.

We are still waiting to get video on the Condor, the flat-tailed horned lizard, and burrowing owl. With all the work going on in the Valley with the Burrowing owl you would think it would be easy to get video, but not yet.

You will have to wait until after May to see the completed Habitats in Flux interactive, but you can see the first video right now.  

Friday, April 3, 2015

Exhibit Installation has Begun

-from the Curator
Looking good, even in protective wrap!
Monday, March 30 and Tuesday, March 31 trucks arrived and members of the Weldon Exhibits team spent an intense two days unloading exhibit components.  Wednesday began installation and even at the start of Day 3 you can already see the exhibits starting to take shape. 

Unloading components
Before installation
It's thrilling to see what we've only imagined through design drawings starting to take shape in our museum- we hope you're getting as excited as we are!
WE staff applying photographic mural

Our sheep will supervise the rest of installation 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wilson Jr. High Art Fair

-from the Curator

Yesterday Wilson Jr. High sponsored the 7th Annual Art Festival for the El Centro Elementary School District.  Students showcased their talents in music, dance, painting, and sculpture for visitors to see.  The IVDM was again one of the groups invited to participate in the Festival and we enjoyed spending the afternoon with very talented and enthusiastic kids of all ages!

Learning to make a pot
Over 230 students came by our tables to participate in our coiled clay program. Sometimes we had as many as 20 kids at one time! Several remembered us from last year, or from field trips they'd been on earlier this year, and were eager to show off their clay skills to their friends and family.  Others were excited to dive in and give it a try.  Everyone had a great time! Thanks for inviting us again this year Wilson!

Face painting and clay- art of all kinds!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Science Fair Fun

-from the Curator

Students displaying their projects at STEM Night
Yesterday we attended the Wilson Jr. High School STEM Night.  About 200 7th and 8th grade students from Wilson Junior High, Kennedy Middle School, and De Anza Magnet participated, and friends, family, and community members came out to support them. Several science-related groups were also invited to have a table to interest people in what they do and this year we were invited to attend.
Showing our upcoming exhibit and having fun with rocks!

143 students and adults stopped by our table to talk to up about our upcoming exhibit, field trips, and rocks.  We displayed several of our exhibit drawings as well as several samples of volcanic rocks: basalt, obsidian, pumice, and geodes. Everyone loved rocks and people were excited to touch these samples and talk to us about their own rock hounding experiences.

It was great to see so many kids excited about a hands-on approach to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Congratulations to all the students for great projects- we hope to see you all out at the museum after our new exhibit is installed!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Exciting Day!

-from the Curator

Today was a hugely exciting day for us here at the museum.  After years of negotiating, today a new piece was accessioned into our collection. Over the past year, working with the exhibit developers at Weldon Exhibits, we have designed and built a special case to house this piece.  You'll be able to see it in the opening of our permanent exhibit in a section on adaptations, where it will be a focal piece.

We're not giving out any spoilers, but as a teaser, here's the text that will be on the glass of its case:

"A key adaptation to the desert’s extreme conditions is a keen understanding of your prey: its habitat, its behavior, and its patterns."

Field Trip Fun (Part 2)

-from the Curator

Sunflower students exploring the mysteries of the desert
Today was our last field trip before major exhibit installation starts.  Over the last two weeks we've had three 6th grade classes and a 5th grade class from Sunflower Elementary, and 7th-8th graders from Westmoreland- a total of 137 kids in just three days!

Making a pot is harder than it looks!

Our Sunflower students came out to do an extended hike through our property and talk about desert biomes.  They learned how different plants and animals adapt to live and thrive in the desert, and how long you can live without water (3 days).  They also got to work with clay and try making pots while finding out how important making a good pot was to living in the desert.

Flint knapping with glass
Flint knapping with glass
The older Westmoreland students helped us pilot a new field trip program- an intense look at archaeology. We looked at artifacts, talked about some of the reasons artifacts are left behind and what archaeologists learn from them, and tried our hand at flint knapping.  That one met with mixed success, but it was a good first try for everyone.

In depth archaeology with reproductions you can touch!
Since January we've had over 330 kids come through the museum on field trips. They've gotten to see some of the behind the scenes aspects of building an exhibit that people rarely see.  They've also discovered how many people are involved with very different jobs to put it all together.  Maybe we have some future exhibit designers in the making?

Hopefully they've come away excited to come back and see our final exhibit and be able to tell their families what changes they see.  They all certainly had fun while they were here, and so did we!
Out of the whole class, 1 successful point was made