Saturday, May 31, 2014

Happy Birthday!!

"From the Interim Head Curator"

Partying with coiled clay
Today we were excited to host something a little bit different- a birthday party!  A lovely young lady asked if she could have part of her birthday party at the museum because of how much she "loves science and nature".  Who could say no to that?  So she and several of her best friends (ages 5-10) came out, got a tour of the museum, and made coiled clay pots with us. Several parents also joined in and it was a contest to see who could make the best pot- kids or grown ups!

They also helped us try something new in our exhibits.  We are starting to prototype part of our permanent exhibit to see what works and what should be changed, and these kids were the first to dive in and help us.  They explored, they tested, and were happy to tell us what they liked.  They can't wait to see the simple cardboard boxes we're using turn into drawers with even more cool stuff to see!  We learned a lot from them and are really excited to add some of their suggestions into our exhibit!  Thanks guys, and Happy Birthday!


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Kids Love Clay

"From the Summer Youth Programming Intern"

This past weekend the museum hauled one tent, three tables, and fifty pounds of fresh clay up to Jacumba for the Healing Waters and Arts Festival. If there is one thing to be taken from the whole experience it is this: kids love clay. Despite the searing heat, kids at the festival passed up water-slides and bouncy-castles to come to the museum booth and attempt to make a coiled clay pot. We literally had kids who stayed at our booth for more than 2 hours.

Our coiled program was not grant funded this year. We have been smashing up pots and reusing clay for all of our last ten 4th grade field trips. This week, however, we ran out of clay.

The Jacumba festival would not have been possible except for Lorraine Pritchett, who saw our need and donated $400 for clay. We picked up 400 pounds of clay in San Diego on Friday and on Saturday hauled it back up to Jacumba.

It was the perfect day in California's "rejuvenation adventureland". The wind was soft and carried the sound of multiple violins and singers across the festival grounds. With good food, good weather, and good company, there was not much more to ask for. Not only did we have a great time at the festival, but it produced some of the museums most dazzling pieces of coiled clay art to date.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Help Us Build a Lunar Observatory

"From the Artist in Residence"

If you ever stopped by the museum back in 2012 you might remember seeing a wall cascaded in large pictures in the back of the gallery. The photos depicted large-scale art installations in various places around the world. There was a pile of white circular stickers that you could take and put on your favorite one. As the year went on more and more pictures were added to the wall. More stickers were put on those pictures. If you do remember that you might have thought to yourself at one point or another within the last two years "Whatever happened with those pictures on the wall at the museum? Weren't we supposed to build something?"

Well if you do remember the pictures on the wall back in 2012, and if you have ever asked yourself a question pertaining to their whereabouts, you now have an answer! As of yesterday at 11:23am we have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to build what we are calling the Ocotillo Observatory: the much anticipated conclusion to the three-year-long effort to build a large scale inhabitable art installation on the museum grounds. Kicktarter is a website that helps crowd-source projects within a community. We started this project together, and we need your help to finish it.

To give to the campaign head over to and pledge any amount you want!

Friday, May 23, 2014

AAM Conference

"From the Director"

This past week I attended the American Alliance of Museums annual conference in Seattle., where I presented in a session about fund-raising in small museums. Sometimes, I think we do not realize the significance of our programs at our little museum in the middle of the desert, but I just received an email saying in part, "Your presentation/topic was one of perennial relevance to many of our smaller and newer institutional members."

My presentation was on the "Friendraiser" events that we held last year. The six events we held raised $3,200.00 toward the endowment. They were also fun and I think people liked attending. More important they provided a forum where we could present a very clear focused message to a select group of our supporters.

The idea of a small, intimate gathering in the home of a Board member may not be revolutionary. I attended other sessions that discussed fundraising events that were hosted in the homes of major donors. These events raised millions of dollars for the museums that held them. This is a very different concept, however, from our Friendraisers. The Friendraisers were developed as a way that the Imperial Valley Desert Museum could achieve 100% giving by our Board of Directors, but gathering around a table to discus our plans for developing a new exhibit and endowment also allowed us to develop a key group of stakeholders who would take our message out to other people in the community. We built funds and built friends at the same time.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Girl Scout Field Trip

Girl Scout Troop 7030 learns about coiled clay
Today we were joined by Girl Scout Troop 7030 out of Heber for a field trip.  Five girls and their mothers came out to learn a bit about the museum, see artifacts, and (of course!) do coiled clay.  These young students were all excited to come out and see what goes on here, and had a blast looking at artifacts, asking why things worked the way they do, and what rocks were best for what tools.


 They also got to spend time making pots, and tried to get creative braiding clay designs into their pots.  They all claimed they hadn't tried it before, but we think these girls, who all claimed science and math as their favorite subjects in school, are also naturals with ceramics!

Braided pot or birthday cake? Troop 7030 gets fancy with their pots

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cooling Center, Summer Hours

You may not have noticed yet, but warmer weather is creeping up on us! Summer may be over a month away "officially" but the temperatures are predicted to start climbing this week and stay up there. The Museum is an official Imperial County Cooling Center again this year, and because of this, starting Tuesday, May 20th, we will be operating on summer hours.

 This means we'll be open Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-3pm for people who need a break from the heat.  We'll have air conditioning, chairs, a TV and DVD player with a few movies for kids (though you can always bring your child's favorite with you).  The library will have a summer reading program going on in June and July: Wednesday June 18 and 25, July 9 and 16 at 10:30am.  All children are welcome to join. Karate lessons are also returning this summer. Tuesdays and Thursdays from June 3-July 8: 10am-10:45 for ages 5-9, 11am-12 for ages 10 and up (adults, this includes you!) It's a great way to get the kids moving around and best of all- it's free!

Call us at 760-358-7016 to sign up for Karate or if you have any questions about our summer hours (or anything else!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Archaeological Work at the Harding Home

When Warren G. Harding ran for president in 1920, he ran his entire campaign from his home in Marion, Ohio. It was known as the Front Porch Campaign. A couple weeks ago we received a call to asking if we wanted to participate in an archaeological project to excavate foundations of a kitchen addition that had been built on the house in 1920.

This week Jordan Menvielle and Neal V Hitch have been at the house working on the archaeological project which is being run by Dr. Craig Keener, of Professional Archaeological Services Team.
Dr. Hitch's academic specialization is the architecture of the 1920s and he had written about the modernization of the Harding Home during the campaign. The president had enlarged the kitchen, but no one knows exactly where or how big the addition was. This was a good opportunity to complete research Dr. Hitch started several years ago.

The archaeological company was looking for additional people as well, so Dr. Hitch contacted Jordan Menvielle, an El Centro resident and a recent graduate of the Anthropology program at UC San Diego. It is not everyday you get to do archaeology on a presidential site, so he jumped at the chance. Jordan will be working on the project for the next several weeks. This project is the first step of a plan to restore the presidential site for the 2020 centennial anniversary of the Front Porch Campaign.