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Ocotillo, California
Keeping Local Collections Local in Imperial County
NEH funding helped the Imperial Valley Desert Museum create its first exhibition. Image courtesy of the Imperial Valley Desert Museum.

Founded more than 45 years ago as part of Imperial Valley College’s archaeological field school, the Imperial Valley Desert Museum is now an independent museum located in the Yuha Desert. In a new building, which opened in 2012, the museum stewards over 30,000 artifacts from the Imperial Valley and Eastern San Diego County, making the region’s cultural and natural history accessible to the people who inhabit it. Two NEH grants, including a challenge grant that will help the museum establish a $1.04 million endowment, have helped the museum protect its collections and create its first exhibition. Ultimately, this endowment will provide stable funding for a curator and collections manager, and support their efforts to “preserve, interpret, and celebrate” the deserts, cultures, and history of Southern California.

“The fact that we are working on an endowment shows county officials that we have an active strategy in place. It has changed our conversations, demonstrating that we aim to be full community partners.”

–Dr. David Breeckner, Executive Director, Imperial Valley Desert Museum

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