Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Museum Advocacy Day!

-Interim Head Curator

Today is Museum Advocacy Day and we're celebrating museums across America!  While we're working hard building our new permanent exhibit, we thought we'd take a minute and share some fun facts about museums from the American Alliance of Museums.

Did you know:

The beauty of the desert
  • There are approximately 850 million visits each year to American museums- more than the attendance for all major league sporting events and theme parks combined (483 million in 2011)
  • About 17% of museums are located in rural areas with fewer than 20,000 residents
  • Americans view museums as one of the most important resources for educating our children 

  • Children who visited a museum during kindergarten had higher achievement scores in reading, mathematics, and science in third grade than children who did not
Shawii Day: learning about food
  • Museums help teach the state, local, or core curriculum, tailoring their programs in math, science, art, literacy, language arts, history, civics and government, economics and financial literacy, geography and social studies
  • Museums directly contribute $21 billion to the U.S. economy each year. They generate billions more through indirect spending by their visitors
  • 78% of all U.S. leisure travelers participate in cultural or heritage activities such as visiting museums. These travelers spend 63% more on average than other leisure travelers
  • In determining America's Best Cities, Businessweek.com placed the greatest weight on "leisure amenities (including density of museums), followed by educational metrics and economic metrics, and then crime and air quality."
  • Governments that support the arts find that for every $1 invested in museums and other cultural organizations, $7 is returned in tax revenues

And yet:

Coiled Clay: fun for the whole family!

  • Only a small (and shrinking) percentage of America’s museums receive federal funding of any kind
  • Despite growth in the economy overall, more than two-thirds of museums reported economic stress at their institutions in 2012

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Water is Life Leak

-by the Interim Head Curator

We all know how crucial water is if you want to survive in the desert.  This week an experimental trail camera we set up on the museum property reminded us that even the smallest amount of water quickly becomes a welcome addition.  Even a leaky hose can support a thriving ecosystem.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Exhibit Text

For the last year, we have been working with Dean Weldon Exhibits to design and fabricate a permanent exhibit at the Imperial Valley Desert Museum. Today, we reviewed the final text panels for the first printing.

For six months we have been writing exhibit text. We have gone through prototyping and visitor evaluations. We had different groups of people come out the the museum and read the text out loud as fast as they could. This was to see how things read, and in fact this caught lots of issues.

On a panel about using natural materials as pigments for decorating ceramics 5 out of 6 readers read the word "plant" for the word "paint." This got corrected.

But today was about a final reading. Changing a "to" to a "for." Finding a sentence that used the word "might" twice.

I love the big ideas and the dreams. Now we are down to the details, and in a day or two we will be in print.

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: ivdmuseum@gmail.com

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!