Saturday, April 25, 2015

Member Friendraiser: Testing interactives

-from the Curator

First visitors at the 'Water is Life' topo map

Today a group of visitors attended a Friendraiser hosted by Board Member Lisa Gallinat at the Museum.  Friendraisers are designed as small, intimate events where attendees explore a behind the scenes aspect of the museum or lecture while raising money for the Museum's Endowment fund. Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the donations given for this event are matched by the NEH.

Discovering a mountain lion

Today our event visitors were the first to see two new interactive exhibits as part of the installation of the Museum's new permanent exhibit.  At the "Land of Extremes" visitors were introduced to panoramic images of the valley projected onto a screen. Using a touchscreen they experimented with zooming in to close up images, using icons to explore the desert and hiking destinations.  The second new interactive, "Water is Life" is a topographic map that projects images of the ocean and Lake Cahuilla as it fills and recedes in the Imperial Valley. A touchscreen allows visitors to see different animals that would have been present at different times in the Valley's history.
Although they will not yet be on every day, over the next several weeks we will be testing these interactives, working out the bugs in the systems, seeing how people use them, and how long they stay at the different stations.
Exploring the 'Land of Extremes'

Exploring the changing water projections of Lake Cahuilla

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Frequently asked question: When will you open?

-from the Director

Archaeology section- under development
"When will you open?" is a question we have been getting a lot lately. Currently, we are installing the casework for Phase I and Phase 2 of our exhibit. This will take 3 weeks.  Though this is a lot like installing furniture, it is big furniture, and just like at your house, it also requires a lot of painting and wallpapering.  After installation, museum staff will have three weeks to complete painting, put back ceilings, and do a deep cleaning.

After the rocks and casework are installed and the museum is cleaned up, we will be installing interactives, media, and software. This entails setting up computers and LCD projectors and requires three more weeks to make sure everything is installed properly and running correctly.  After all this, we will prepare artifacts for mounting and installation. This is the most complicated and time consuming step that museum staff will be doing. This will take most of the summer.

Painting and protecting rocks
A Borrego Sheep & mountain lion in the new exhibit

Phase 3 of the exhibit will cover the geology of Imperial Valley, and we are hoping that there will be public support to finish our exhibit sooner rather than later. If this is the case, we will complete the final design for Phase 3 in the fall and install these components this winter. This would allow us to have an official "grand opening" in the spring of next year.

Until then, we are planning a series of rolling soft openings for our members and a few for the public as exhibit software is tested and comes fully online or as artifacts get installed in specific cases.

We are not taking the traditional approach to opening a new museum where visitors don't see anything until a grand unveiling. We have had people come in the building throughout the process and many have seen the behind-the-scenes process that goes into building a permanent museum exhibit.  We want our visitors to feel involved every step of the way, and feel pride and ownership in a museum that they have watched grow into something truly special.

This excerpt is from "Land of Extremes: Desert Museum: Behind the scenes of new exhibit." by Neal V. Hitch. Imperial Valley Press. April 18, 2015. For the full article, see today's Imperial Valley Press.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Water is Life Leak widescreen 30 sec

From the Director:

Today, the installation team from Weldon Exhibits began installing the media and interactive components of the Land of Extremes exhibit. The Habitats in Flux exhibit will be an area where we show six desert animals or habitats that are changing. It includes 30 seconds of video of the ocean (there is a reason you find oyster beds in the Yuha Desert), 30 seconds of big horn sheep, and we just now finished the 30 seconds of clips edited from the trail camera that we have had out on one of our leaky faucets.

We are still waiting to get video on the Condor, the flat-tailed horned lizard, and burrowing owl. With all the work going on in the Valley with the Burrowing owl you would think it would be easy to get video, but not yet.

You will have to wait until after May to see the completed Habitats in Flux interactive, but you can see the first video right now.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Exhibit Installation has Begun

-from the Curator
Looking good, even in protective wrap!
Monday, March 30 and Tuesday, March 31 trucks arrived and members of the Weldon Exhibits team spent an intense two days unloading exhibit components.  Wednesday began installation and even at the start of Day 3 you can already see the exhibits starting to take shape. 

Unloading components
Before installation
It's thrilling to see what we've only imagined through design drawings starting to take shape in our museum- we hope you're getting as excited as we are!
WE staff applying photographic mural

Our sheep will supervise the rest of installation 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wilson Jr. High Art Fair

-from the Curator

Yesterday Wilson Jr. High sponsored the 7th Annual Art Festival for the El Centro Elementary School District.  Students showcased their talents in music, dance, painting, and sculpture for visitors to see.  The IVDM was again one of the groups invited to participate in the Festival and we enjoyed spending the afternoon with very talented and enthusiastic kids of all ages!

Learning to make a pot
Over 230 students came by our tables to participate in our coiled clay program. Sometimes we had as many as 20 kids at one time! Several remembered us from last year, or from field trips they'd been on earlier this year, and were eager to show off their clay skills to their friends and family.  Others were excited to dive in and give it a try.  Everyone had a great time! Thanks for inviting us again this year Wilson!

Face painting and clay- art of all kinds!