When most people in the Grand Valley think about their local heritage, what do they think of? Do they think of the Museums of Western Colorado? Or do they think of one of our sites, such as Cross Orchards Historic Site or the Museum of the West? Many people who walk through the door of Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita are not aware that it, too, is under the umbrella of the Museums of Western Colorado. Despite the wealth of community services we offer, from preserving local history to active scientific research in the region to hosting events that bring the community together, the general public tends to view the separate museum sites as completely disconnected. In the summer, while digging at the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in Rabbit Valley, local visitors didn’t realize that this nationally significant local treasure is not only worked by MWC crews but co-managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Museums of Western Colorado.
Fortunately there is a way for locals to learn more about all of the Museum’s sites and the important roles they play in our community. Starting this February, the Museums of Western Colorado will be hosting its first-ever museum education class. This exciting free class will allow members of the general public to experience the Museum in a way they haven’t been able to before.
The class will start on Monday, Feb. 6 with an overview of what the Museums of Western Colorado does and is. Executive Director Peter Booth will introduce the class and Curator of Museum Education Rob Gay will then go over the history of the Museum, what the Museum offers, and how people have been involved over the last 50 years. During this time class participants will also get to know each other and get basic questions answered.
The next week the class begins getting in-depth with the museum sites on Monday, Feb. 13. Participants will get not only a tour of the exhibits at Dinosaur Journey but our Curator of Paleontology will take participants behind the scenes to tour our collection facility (including our new expansion!) and our lab. You will be able to talk with volunteers and staff about the amazing things that occur every day at Dinosaur Journey. Following a lunch at DJ, participants will be taken to several fossil sites around the Grand Valley, including the site where Elmer Riggs discovered the first-ever Brachiosaurus. The Museum owns this unique location, helping our community preserve this amazing piece of natural and historic heritage for the region.
The following week, on Monday, Feb. 20, the class will be visiting Cross Orchards! This historic living history farm preserves a part of the vanishing agricultural history of our area. As Grand Junction, Clifton, Fruita, Mack, Loma, and Palisade all continue to grow it becomes increasingly important to remember what brought settlers to this area in the first place: fertile land and abundant water for irrigation. Our Facilitator of Cross Orchards will lead the group through the farm, barn, bunkhouse, and the collection of antique machinery on display.
The next week, Wednesday, March 1, is the last site visit of the class and it takes place downtown at the Museum of the West. Our Curator of History and the Curator of Collections and Archives will not only take participants through our gallery showcasing the history of humans in the Grand Valley from 12,000 years ago until today, they will also get another behind-the-scenes look into our collections and archives!
The final day of this Museum Education Class will take place on Monday, March 6. Participants will have a review of everything that was gone over (since it is a lot to take in!) and be given information packets about each site. There will also be a question-and-answer session and wrap-up. If participants want to volunteer with the Museum, there are going to be multiple opportunities to do so and we’ll cover those as well!
The following evening is the Museum’s annual Heritage Awards. Folks who completed the course will be presented with a certificate of completion during the ceremony. We feel strongly that, since the Museum couldn’t do the job of preserving the heritage of the Grand Valley without others’ expertise and service, it is only right for us to honor those who have gone the extra mile in learning more and have decided to carry forward that tradition of service and preservation of our shared past.