Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Value of Membership-or, having more fun at the Museum

-from the Curator
Author Nicholas Clapp and his wife Bonnie at an Evening with an Expert

The value of membership at a museum, zoo, or any institution comes in many forms.  There's the positive feeling of supporting a group you believe strongly is important to help.  Often there are perks like behind the scenes tours, discounted admission, special member events, newsletters, etc.

Special member events, called FriendRaisers, are one of the perks of being a member at the Imperial Valley Desert Museum.  These events range from behind the scenes looks at making an exhibit to our popular series of Evenings with an Expert. All funds raised during our FriendRaisers go towards the Desert Museum's Endowment Fund, which is being matched 3:1 by a National Endowment of the Humanities Challenge Grant through 2019.  The goal of the Endowment is to raise enough money to fund two permanent professional staff positions at the museum. 

Last night, 32 members attended an Evening with an Expert FriendRaiser and listened to a fascinating talk by documentarian and author Nicholas Clapp.  Clapp discussed shamanism in Southern California, which he researched for his new book, Old Magic: Lives of Desert Shamans, published by Sunbelt Publications.

Old Magic: Lives of the Desert Shamans- Nicholas Clapp

The evening was enjoyed by all.  Members got to see the newest additions to the Museum's permanent exhibit, mix and mingle with the author and other members- forming new friendships that inspired one member to say " I feel like I've found another daughter". Clapp's talk gave everyone a new appreciation for the hard lives of desert shamans, their work and their world.  He answered questions and signed books after the talk.

Interested in becoming a member of the Imperial Valley Desert Museum Society? Click here to find out more and join today!

Members gathered to talk books, museums, the desert, and everything in between

Monday, February 1, 2016

Geodes and the Fair

-from the Curator

Saturday was a busy day at the museum and part of the fun was designing and installing a new exhibit in our "exit case" by the gift shop.  To get everyone excited about the upcoming Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta (February 26-March 6!) we partnered with the Gem & Mineral Society to showcase an amazing collection of geodes.

Read our Land of Extremes article on geodes and explore the incredible variety of geodes on exhibit here at the museum.  Then make sure to go to the Gem & Mineral Society building during the Fair where you can cut your own geode! Be the first to see the inside of an amazing stone from nature's treasure box!

Thanks to the Gem & Mineral Society for the temporary loan of these beautiful stones! On display at the Museum until March 6.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

I Want to Have Fun!

-from the Curator

New ideas were brainstormed onto paper for the Idea Wall
Almost 15 museum members and community friends came out today for our Open Public Meeting to brainstorm strategic plans and ideas for the museum's future. There was a lot of wonderful brainstorming and ideas have been added to our Idea Walls- one for general programs and indoor exhibits and another wall for outdoor programs and exhibits. Ideas ranged from hikes and off-road trips into the desert with experts to live web-cameras to show the view and watch animals.  Designing walking trails and signs on the museum property ranked high on everyone's list with some great ideas for what to do on the trails.
Voting with stickers for favorite ideas

The staff will spend the next few weeks organizing the ideas on the wall and adding pictures and as visitors come in they will be offered several stickers to vote on their favorite ideas.  The ideas "liked" by the most people will be where we start!

Voting for the Outdoor Idea Wall

Alongside thinking about exhibits, programs and events to have in the future, IVDM Director Neal Hitch also reserved an idea page for one important idea: "I Want to Have Fun!"  "Don't think about things you think a museum 'should' do" he challenged the group.  "Think about things you'd want to do. What would be fun?"

What would you add? Email or comment, we'll add to the Idea Walls as ideas come in! Remember, it's your museum, so have fun!

"I Want to Have Fun!"

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Public Meeting: Saturday January 23 - Strategic Planning

-from the Curator

This Saturday, January 23 from 10am-12pm we will have an open Public Meeting at the Imperial Valley Desert Museum and we hope you will all come out and join us!  We are looking for community input on the future Strategic Plan of the IVDM and your ideas and votes count! Stop by and be a part of planning the museum's future.

This fall, the Imperial Valley Desert Museum began working on a new Strategic Plan. Though we have met with some successes, it is important that we have a direction for the next five years. And it is important that this direction is community driven!

 We began planning activities in November at the Imperial Valley Desert Museum Society annual meeting. Most strategic plans begin with a SWOT, a discussion of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.  As discussed at this meeting, the strengths of the IVDM are its location, situated directly off of Interstate 8 in the heart of the Yuha Desert and at the intersection of the major southern entrance into the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The museum has developed major new displays with interactive hands-on components . Youth programming, especially field trips, are exceptional. The museum has developed several signature events, like “stargazing” and “dinner with an expert” that have been well attended and well received. New events, such as Octobercraft Day, have been very successful.

            During the meeting, and for the next few weeks, we also collected initial thoughts about what people see as important for the museum.  We asked about potential uses of new property around the museum: Suggestions included hiking trails, truck and jeep displays, and interpretive programs about drought tolerant/native plants.
            The second question asked concerned the most important thing the museum will do in the coming years.  The focus for the next year was clear: creating a 6th grade hiking field trip, continuing to develop 4th grade field trips, creating more ties to communities in Imperial County, and moving programs into communities in East County.  The would also like to see a Youth Hike program be developed in conjunction with the Jacumba Hikers.

            Over the Next 5 years suggestions include developing internship programs with local colleges and an increasing the use of our collections for research by local students. One very interesting comment was the suggestion to develop a “Skype with a Scientist program.” There is a model for this type of program being done at science centers around the country.    

Other ideas? Come talk to us Saturday, January 23!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year in the Desert

It has been a busy weekend in Ocotillo over New Years. Actually, busier than I think it has been in the last four years. Maybe its the cheap gas, but lots of people out wheeling about.

Today, Jim stopped by to get a BLM trail map. He has been camping near Plaster City and was looking to do some Jeeping in the Yuha.

He and his wife must have liked the new exhibit, at the end of the day they brought every one from their campsite back.

"We had no idea they had something like this in the Valley!" was one comment.

Pass that along to your County Supervisor!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

New Field Trip Toolboxes from Sears

-from the Director

Thanks to a donation from Sears and some quality design work from Conveyor Group, the museum is in the process of implementing the new hands-on tool box component of our field trip program.

The new Sears Craftsman 26in Standard Duty Tool Box Combo cases just came in this week. We are very excited about how the field trip program has expanded and we are happy to now have the actual "tools" that we need.

Look for an article about the new cases and our field trip program in this Saturday's Imperial Valley Press.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Desert Diners

-from the Curator
Desert Diners, group shot

21 members of the Desert Diners came out to the Museum today for a tour and a picnic lunch. The group describes themselves as "people who enjoy exploring the desert, taking photos and dining outdoors" when they get the opportunity and the weather is good.

Dining in the desert
Many had seen the Museum being built over the years and were excited to see the new, permanent exhibits for the first time. 

It was a great day for enjoying a beautiful December day reconnecting with friends while dining in the desert.  Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and we hope they come back again!

Touring the new, permanent exhibit