Sunday, August 17, 2014

Exhibit Opening Weekend

from the Interim Head Curator

This weekend marked the opening of our new traveling exhibit Seaweed, Salmon, and Manzanita Cider: A California Indian Feast.  Opening weekend was sponsored by Imperial Valley Aggregates and Gibson & Schaeffer Inc. - and therefore free to the public. We were thrilled that over 100 people joined us over the three day festivities to celebrate our      
largest traveling exhibit yet.

Family sees what could be found in Lake Cahuilla
Friends, family, Museum members, and first time visitors all came out to experience this new exhibit.  They enjoyed two different videos running in different locations- one that came with the exhibit on making acorn bread and the award winning First People Kumeyaay. They learned new and exciting things about grinding the all important acorn for food and roasting agave in pits.  And everyone loved the take away recipes!  Hopefully we'll hear back from people after they've made the meals to tell us how they liked it!

Kids enjoyed a new twist on our signature coiled clay program by also learning a bit about finding clay in its natural state and how the Kumeyaay ground it to create the pliable clay needed for ceramics.  There are also grinding stones in the exhibit from our education collection that can be touched and a game where kids try to think of everything they would need to make their own dinner.
Learning to grind clay

What are YOU making for dinner?

Tools for hunting on view
 With the exception of historical photographs of food preparation and hunting, jars of food provided by Exhibit Envoy, and a basket collection on loan to the museum from Johnny Eagle Spirit Elliot of Manzanita Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, all artifacts on display came from the museum's collections- many never before on view to the public.  All the artifacts relate to food: hunting it, cooking it, eating it.  While learning about the importance of fishing for food our visitors can also see a map of Lake Cahuilla and learn a little more about that fascinating part of our desert landscape.  Shells from both the ocean and Lake Cahuilla are on display, as are a collection of projectile points found along the lake's shorelines.  In an area on hunting visitors can not only see knives, arrows shaft straighteners, and throwing sticks- they can also see a preview of the upcoming permanent exhibit.  A collection of projectile points takes the visitor through a journey of changing technology, changing climate, and changing game.  From mammoths to rabbits, we have taken lot of visitor feedback into consideration when designing this case.

Baskets on loan for this exhibit only

Seaweed, Salmon, and Manzanita Cider: A California Indian Feast will be at the Imperial Valley Desert Museum until Saturday, October 11.  If you and your family weren't able to come for the opening weekend fun, we hope you have the chance to stop by and see this once in a lifetime exhibit before it leaves the valley!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Salmon have arrived!

-by the Interim Head Curator

Today the new travelling exhibit Seaweed, Salmon, and Manzanita Cider: A California Indian Feast arrived and we are very excited.  The staff will spend the next two weeks setting up and adding to this exhibit with artifacts from the Museum's collections to help tell these new stories.

The Imperial Valley Desert Museum is partnering with the Manzanita Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in hosting the largest travelling exhibit the Museum has had to date.  The statewide exhibit from the Grace Hudson Museum and Exhibit Envoy (creators of the Gold Fever! exhibit the Museum hosted last year) features foods important in the lives of Native Californians including fish, meat, vegetables, fruits, and acorns.

Seaweed, Salmon, and Manzanita Cider: A California Indian Feast will be open from Saturday, August 16-Saturday, October 11.  Admission to the museum during this time will be free for Museum Members, $5 for non-Members.  Events held in conjunction with this exhibit will begin with an exhibit opening celebration on Saturday, August 16 from 2-5pm, free to the public thanks to our sponsors Imperial Valley Aggregates and Gibson & Schaefer Inc.
For more information, please go to our website or send us an email at

Curation staff opening exhibit boxes for the first time

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Society Notes- an occasional newsletter

-from the Interim Head Curator

Between one thing and the other we've gotten pretty behind in publishing our newsletters.  But never fear, a newsletter is here!  Containing the first of many information updates about our upcoming travelling exhibit Seaweed, Salmon, and Manzanita Cider: A California Feast, I hope you enjoy!

Please note- some of the events on this list are not only RSVP but are Member only events.  If you've been debating becoming a member and see something on this list that interests you now may be the time to join!

Society Notes: August 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Water Cache Olla

From the Director...

I hope you saw the article in the IV Press today...

As we are preparing artifacts and prototyping cases for the new permanent exhibit new things are gradually coming into the museum.

Last week we moved the water cache olla into the museum. In the records of the IVC Museum, this olla was referred to as the "Fabian" olla. I was not sure why, but in the last few weeks the story has come together.

In February 1977, Leonard Fabian, of the Imperial County Planning Department, found an olla in the side of a wash that was severally eroding after Hurricane Kathleen. Fabian notified the IVC Museum and the BLM, and the olla was excavated and fully documented. According to an article published in the museum's newsletter, this was the first archaeologically documented water cache in Imperial County.

The story of the "Fabian" olla is a success story to the BLM, and Fabian was considered somewhat of a local hero. More often, when someone came across an olla in the Imperial Valley in the 1970s they just took it and put into a private collection. This water cache olla was brought to the college museum so that it would benefit the public and have a greater educational purpose. The olla and its accompanying ceramic cap are now back together and on display for the first time since at least 1999. They will be one of the central displays in the new exhibit. We will be prototyping two different ways of telling the story of this olla over the next few weeks. If you come by the museum, please take a minute to provide comments your comments.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Good Day for Ollas

We have been finding that the field notebooks that we have are invaluable. We have been going through the field book of Guido Bianchi. He was a photographer at the IVC Museum. This particular notebook, dated 1975-1977 includes his excavation of what was referred to at the IVC Museum as the "Fabian" olla. We had located this very large olla during the re-curation process. But no other artifacts had been found.

Jessica Brody was able to cross reference the site number recorded in Bianchi's notes with all of the records annotated by Mel Clifton-Harvey when she here in March 2013. The missing ceramic bowl was located in the IC and had been marked "no provenience." This was a great find.

A few pages later in the Bianchi field book he had notes and pictures of two ollas that had been brought into the college by J Harrington. One of these ollas was located in the olla storage room and had also been marked "no provenience." The Harrington ollas are in the accession record and were presumed missing.

This one field book verified two ollas which have now been identified, cataloged, and prepared for exhibit.

As we are getting further with our archives project, it is becoming apparent that some of the old field books, even the student field books, are the only source of information we have on some of the artifacts in the collection.

We want to thank everyone who has donated their notes and field books.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Kickstarter Project

Just 36 hours left in our Kickstarter campaign. We are so thankful to the people who have given. It is really cool to see this project come together after three years. If you have not participated there is still time. But not much time.

You can check out the Kickstarter site by CLICKING HERE.  As of a few minutes ago we were just $75 short of $3,500. A $25 donation gets you an invite to a special private party once the observatory is up. Don't miss out.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Firing Ollas

This week we successfully pit fired a group of pots. This is always stressful. In 2013 about 90 percent of the pots we fired broke. This year we have crushed up and re-purposed about 90 percent of the pots made at the museum. These are the first pots fired since last year. They came through without breaking...well almost. The neck of the carved pot broke when I tried to move it too early.

It has been very windy in Ocotillo, so it is hard to pit fire all the time, but this test was successful, so we will move onto the next test...firing the pots from the birthday party a couple weeks ago.

The young lady who wanted to have her birthday at the museum stopped by a couple days ago to see if we had fired her pots. We had not. But hopefully next time she comes by they will be.