Monday, December 8, 2014

Two NEH Grants Awarded

Today the National Endowment for the Humanities released the 2015 grant awards and we are elated to announce that the IVDM has been awarded two grants: 

Preservation Assistance Grant to bring in a consultant from the Arizona State Museum to evaluate storage layout and purchase supplies to improve storage and environmental conditions for the collections. $4,255

Challenge Grant to provide seed money for an endowment to support two permanent staff positions - the Head Curator and the Cultural Collections and Programs Curator 
Award of $260,000 upon a 3:1 match of $780,000 by 2019

We'd like to thank everyone who has given to the endowment over the past year. Developing a base of broad community support was important to show NEH that we can be successful if we won the grant, and it worked. The award of the Challenge Grant is an exciting development! We were one of 16 museums across the nation to receive this grant and at the end of the project we'll have over a million dollars to support staffing. Thank you for your support!

The National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence

The National Endowment of the Humanities supports research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities by funding top-rated competitive, peer-reviewed proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers. 
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this blog, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Swinging on a Star

-by the Interim Head Curator

The weather is changing, turkeys are flying off shelves, Christmas decorations are going up, so we know what you're thinking about: what are the plans for New Year's Eve?

 This New Year's Eve will be the first annual primary fundraiser for the Imperial Valley Desert Museum.  Our party, a dress-to-impress dinner and dance themed "Swinging on a Star", is going to be the place to be for New Year's Eve!

December 31 at the Barcelona Event Center (330 Wake Ave, El Centro, CA) will be a magnificent evening, complete with a fabulous meal, dancing 'til 1am, a photo booth, party favors and more!  

Dinner: 7-9pm      Dance: 9pm-1am

Tickets are only $100 (for 2) and include dinner, the dance, and a bottle of bubbly (non-alcoholic available).  All proceeds go to the Museum's general operations fund.  Tickets can be purchased from: 

Tickets are limited, get them before they're gone!
Questions? Call Susan Farrar: 760-623-8015 or the IVDM Society:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cattle Call Farmer's Market

This is the first year the museum was part of Brawley's Cattle Call events. We set up in the kids corner and worked with about 82 students from 6 - 16 years.

One student remembered his fourth grade field trip 2 years ago and stayed to make a really nice pot. It seemed like a lot of kids were engaged enough to work for a long time, trying to get their pot shaped just right. A lot succeeded, and a lot of others are willing to keep trying at our next event. 

A big thanks to Lorraine Pritchett for donating the clay, which makes these types of events possible. 


Thursday, October 16, 2014

So long- and thanks for all the fish!

-by the Interim Head Curator

(My apologies to Douglas Adams, but how often does a museum get to use a play on words like that?)

Staff member Jessica Brody says goodbye to the Salmon

With this weekend's Shawii Day we said goodbye to our latest traveling exhibit: Exhibit Envoy's Seaweed, Salmon, and Manzanita Cider: A California Indian Feast. This eight week exhibit explored foods native to California and how they were traditionally prepared by Native Californians.  Using artifacts from our collections that related to food and hunting we were able to supplement the statewide exhibit with information specific to the Kumeyaay Nation.

Young visitors enjoy baskets on loan from Manzanita
Between August 16 and October 12, 562 visitors came through the museum for the exhibit.  That's about 14 people each day we were open for eight weeks!  Visitors came from El Centro, Brawley, and San Diego; Freedom Academy came out from Holtville for a field trip;  and the San Diego Association of Geologists hiked out for their annual field trip.

A young expert teaches our Jessica Brody to crack acorns

We were thrilled by the positive response everyone had to this exhibit.  People loved learning new things about foods they thought they knew, and how complicated it was to prepare foods when today we have a microwave handy!

Staff member Albert Lutz takes down the exhibit

We have now begun the process of not only taking down Salmon to go onto its next home, but everything else in the museum's public area.  As you know, we will be closed for a few months of construction and when we open back up in the Spring we will have an exciting new permanent exhibit! You've supported us through the long beginning- now prepare to be amazed!

Don't worry- we'll be keeping everyone up to date on construction through the blog and Facebook- follow along in this stage of our adventure!
Up next: Mocking up our new visible storage exhibit!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

San Diego Association of Geologists

The San Diego Association of Geologists organize an annual field trip. 

This year the field trip explored the interaction of the major faults of Southern California. Touring by bus, they stopped to explore the physical location of fault lines and examine the resulting geology formations. They took a break at the museum for lunch, catered by the  Jacumba Spa, and listened to Professor Norrie Robbins, adjunct professor at San Diego State University, give a talk on the complex relationship between native cultures and geological fault lines. You can find out more about the SDAG and their field trips on their website:

Shawii Day Extravaganza

-from the Interim Head Curator

Today was our big Shawii Day Event to mark the close of the traveling exhibit Seaweed, Salmon, & Manzanita Cider: A California Indian Feast.  Over 100 people joined us for this fun-filled afternoon.

Visitors enjoyed a screening of the new Viejas Production video on making shawii, then got to try it themselves. Johnny Eagle Spirit Elliot and members of the Manzanita Band of the Kumeyaay Nation provided a hands-on demonstration for everyone who wanted to try the process of turning acorns into shawii- a staple in traditional Kumeyaay diet.

Learning to crack acorns and grind them into flour on grinding stones was a lot of fun - and some of our younger visitors got so good they were cracking acorns with one blow by the end of the day! These pros are clearly future chefs!

Manzanita tribal members demonstrated the process of making shawii.

The day's activities also included shaahuk - a traditional Kumeyaay game taught to us by Stan Rodriguez of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, our coiled clay program outside in absolutely beautiful weather and a silent auction that brought almost $700 to the Museum's Endowment Fund. This was our first silent auction and items were generously donated by John Elliot, Rick Hamilton, Lee Buckingham, and Lisa Gallinat.  We hope to make this a regular part of our Annual Society meeting something to look forward to next year!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fabian's Visit

Lennie Fabian stopped in today to see the ceramic vessel that bears his name. The Fabian Olla, as it is now known, was the first cached vessel excavated by Imperial County archaeologists back in 1977, and will be featured in the new permanent exhibit.

Finding the vessel and informing the local authorities, allowing them to properly document the location and condition of the artifact, sent Fabian's life careening into a direction he never imagined. He now lives in Guatemala with his wife, whom he met as a direct result of his local notoriety.  It was wonderful to see these two old friends re-unite and to show Mr. Fabian the designs for the new display, currently under fabrication by the Museum's design team at WE Exhibits.