Friday, December 30, 2011

Lab Cabinets Installed

We had a lot of help this week and made good progress hanging the cabinets and metal pegboard for the new conservation lab. The metal pegboard was a last minute purchase at the Borders Bookstore closeout sale. It was originally a freestading shelf system. But we thought that it could be repurposed to hold conservation tools and supplies.

Everything is laid out and mounted. Now we need to order custom countertops. But we need to hurry, yesterday we heard back from a collegue and we will have conservation staff arriving at the museum on January 17!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lab Cabinet Delivery

The Kraftmaid cabinets were delivered today. The Conservation Lab is finally becoming a reality. There is still a lot of work to be done. The cabinets will need to be hung. Countertops will have to be made. This week we will try and lay out the cabinets and verify their placement. But the cabinets are here, just in time for Christmas.

 Did I say that there was still a lot of work to be done?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Next up: Developing the Photograph Archives

Harry Casey Collection,
Imperial Valley Desert Museum Photograph Archives
These last few weeks of the year will be spent finishing a project to secure our photograph archives. This summer an intern curated many of the photographs in the collection, including 200 photographs and 1,600 35MM slides. These images include a few aerial photographs, some notable landmarks, archeological sites, and several photographs which appear to have been put together as part of lectures at the college. Few of the images are significant additions to the collection, but some, the one shown here taken by Harry Casey, are amazing photographs that are very important historical documents in themselves.

Images are delicate artifacts and it is best to relocate them when the outside temperature is cool in the desert. Otherwise, drastic temperature changes can reek havoc with the ink and paper materials that make up the photographs or slides. This is especially true in the case of our collection of historic glass slides. Now that the winter weather is upon us, it is the best time to move the rest of the photo collections into the new building.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Grant Seminar, Final Report

by Jessica A. Brody

The grant seminar is in it's last days and we can now report that we achieved and exceeded our goal of preparing 9 grants. We prepared 11 grants in total and so far submitted 6. The remainder are waiting for just a few more materials to be collected, or can't be officially submitted until the new year. We had 30 participants in the seminar, several of who assisted with preparing the grant text. These folks compled approximately 25 hours of work outside the seminar.  Staff spent 178 hours outside the seminar contacting prospective project partners, arranging letters of commitment and support, editing and writing grant text and preparing the budgets and work plans. Great job everyone!

These grants lay out our plans for the museum facility and programming, and they are REALLY GOOD ideas. It's been a pleasure working with everyone here at the museum and I look forward to coming back next year to assist with the plans we've developed over the last 6 weeks. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Volunteer Days

by Jessica A. Brody
BLM intern Natalie shows off some intricately made arrow heads
The Museum hosted 2 volunteer days to re-label the collections the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) interns have finished after four months of re-curating. It's the stuff of volunteer dreams: the true behind scenes of archeology... read the label number in the artifact bag, find the new printed label, replace the old label with the new archival quality one, pick up a new artifact, repeat. Yes, after 3 hours we were all practically walking on a cloud.
I jest, but really, the work we completed was incredibly important to the museum collections and really a lot of fun. Any history lover will see through these mundane tasks and recognize the volunteer days for their true value: as a rare opportunity to have the museum's treasures explained by passionate experts. Whenever someone found an interesting looking artifact, we'd all stop and speculate and oo and ahh over its possible purpose.
One artifact in particular caught my fancy:
When this projectile point was first pointed out as a 'neat' find, I sat looking at the size, going through my mental encyclopedia of desert animals, wondering what kind of a huge arrow shaft would have to be attached to support this big arrow! What kind of animal would be big enough to merit such a hefty tool? Coyote, maybe? Finally, coming up short, I jokingly said, "What's so big out here? Saber tooth tiger?" And with a dead straight face the staff responded, "Mastodon, properly."
Oh. Well, ok then.
When I informed the BLM archeology staff I was going to proclaim that this atlatl point was used to kill a mastodon, they quickly shot me the archeologist mantra: "You can't say that! We don't know that for sure." Yes, yes of course that's true, but it's pretty cool that it might have been used to bring down a mighty mastodon. It's always amazing to think that a hunter some 10,000 years ago could have used the artifact in my hand to feed his family. Talk about bringing home the bacon!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Volunteer Day, Please Come and Help

Help, we need to finish this year's project with the lithics, stone
knives, pottery, and other incredible historic and prehistoric

Last Saturday The Imperial Valley Desert Museum had a volunteer day to
put artifacts into modern storage at our museum. These items had been
catalogued by the interns that worked this summer and they are leaving

We have a lot more to do and need 18 people to finish the job this
weekend! Please let me know we can count on you and make a commitment
to help the museum. Reply to this E-Mail and come on out this weekend
Saturday December 10th.

The event is scheduled for 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM   12/10/11

Martin Fitzurka
President IV Desert Museum Society

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Saturday Volunteer Day

On Saturday the museum held a Volunteer Day at the request of our two BLM interns who have been re-curating collections.

We had 13 people show up who contributed a total of 46 volunteer hours.

We completed the re-curation process on a total of of 16 boxes. This was not quite the goal of 20, but still a lot of work. This coming Saturday we are going to hold another Volunteer Day to finish the work.

Given what we were able to do this past Saturday we need 18 people to show up this next Saturday.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Grant Workshop Update

The grant workshop is going great. We have had 22 participants over the last 3 weeks working on various funding projects. At the half way mark, we are more than half way to our goal of preparing 9 grants by the end of the program. To date, we have submitted grants totalling $63,000.00.

Preparing so many projects in such a short time is a real team effort. One grant took 3 people to prepare! One individual wrote the work plan, another person composed the narrative of why the collections are so significant to the Imperial Valley, and another person prepared the budget.

While all this was going on, someone else was writing the text for second grant, which was then edited and submitted the next day.

We just finished up another grant at today's Wednesday session and started working on the 6th. Whew!

Still a bit to do, but we are making good progress!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Volunteer Day

Tomorrow, the museum is hosting a Volunteer Day, at the request of our BLM interns. From 9:00am-3:00pm we will be bagging, tagging, and boxing artifacts from collections that the interns have re-curated over the last three months. We will be working on these collections for the next two Saturdays.

There are already 10 people signed up to come. We have spots for 12-14. So, if you are interested please look at the announcement in the most recent museum newsletter for contact information. If you are already signed up...

Then see you tomorrow.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Grant Workshop Update - First Grant

If you read the blog from Wednesday you would see that we described completed a grant budget during the three hour workshop session. Well, participants who thought that was a long time did not see how much work actually goes into just the budget. This budget had to be written, justified with the great text, rewritten, revised, rewritten. We started the process of writing the budget at 10:00am. We were still working on it at 11:00pm. This was a long day, but the grant was due on December 1.

During the six weeks of the grant workshop at the museum we have a goal of writing nine grants. The first grant was submitted on December 1 at 2:00pm. It was an electronic submission through and the grant was for conservation planning. A lot of work has gone into this grant over the last two weeks. A portion of the abstract is below:

"This project will result in a strategy for sustainable long-term storage in the unique desert environment of the Imperial Valley. It will bring together specialists in environmental control, architecture, and artifact and archives conservation to create a plan that both works for the museum and can be disseminated to all the other museums in our area who are in a similar environment. We are perfectly positioned, and have the opportunity, to complete a nationally significant and achievable sustainability assessment at our new museum. Over the next two years, the Imperial Valley will become the leading provider of clean energy in the state of California. It is in this environment and with this support that the Planning Team will develop solutions to the storage concerns and climate systems; designate appropriate environmental targets; and develop a plan for adequate long-term storage. The feasibility study will analyze the rationale and prepare the team to develop an informed long-term preservation strategy. The priority recommendations will be implemented and monitored for twelve months to evaluate the project’s value as a benchmark for similar institutions in our unique desert environment."