Not all answers to the question “Hey! what are you working on?!?” can be summed up and easily yelled back across a parking lot. Sometimes an answer to that question requires more explaining.
Earth Day 2023 fell on Saturday this year. Out by the newly created bird garden in front of our plaza, I popped up my white ez up tent and table just far enough away from the daily dog walkers and runners on the sidewalk near the busy street. The plaza and parking lot stays empty for the most part on the weekends so I take full advantage of the quiet and am able to spread out.
As I sat enjoying the sunshine and fresh air listening to the birds, with my head down cleaning a set of bones I am preparing for display, a woman I do not know but who also works in the same plaza came walking towards her car. In a loud tone somewhere between interested and somewhat annoyed she asked what I was working on.
Bones. I’m working on bones. I run a Natural History Museum. Bones.
But quickly I find out her tone of irritation has more to do with her not knowing specifically WHEN my business is actually open and way less to do with what it is we actually do. Seems she has had to answer this question to her patrons I’m guessing. (?) To her it appears we are always closed and I’m guessing that too is annoying.
She didn’t really listen to my attempt at answering nor come any closer so I wouldn’t have to basically yell. I let her leave believing we were only open on Saturdays because, well, it was easier.
I shook my head and went back to work .
To be honest and give this woman her due, we don’t post specific Museum hours or days of operation. There are quite a few really good reasons why. But contrary to popular belief, yelling those reasons at a stranger truly isn’t my style .
I am the founder of the nonprofit Desert Nature Alliance in Gold Canyon, Arizona. Last October, we moved our fledgling Natural History Museum and Learning Center into its first public space. Our mission is to provide nature-based education support, preservation, awareness and most importantly safety information to our community and visitors from across the world.
The DNA has been active online with its own YouTube channel, Instagram and Facebook for a few years before deciding it was ready to have a physical space people could visit. But that doesn’t mean it’s some cavernous building, open 24/7 like the Smithsonian!
Currently the Desert Nature Alliance Museum is a small, 600 square foot space purposely designed to have private tours, presentations, one on one classes or literally change some things inside to accommodate special needs.
Though filled with amazing displays already and growing daily, it is not intended to be buzzing with hundreds of visitors a day!
Inside, we have fragile bones and skeletons you can not touch because we cannot replace! Ever! But then there are bones and other things to touch and see up close and feel.
More often than not people tell us how they enjoy getting to spend time looking or asking questions without tons of people around making them feel nervous or anxious or just plain uncomfortable.
I previously worked for the amazing PHX Zoo. I loved every minute of it. I learned more working there than I ever could have attending a large college. Not everyone can experience a place like that filled with people and wild animals and noise without headphones or needing a wheel chair. For some it’s simply too much , too large, too overwhelming.
Providing a smaller more intimate setting was our goal.
When we need to travel to make a presentation, we take some of our Collection along with us. That temporarily changes what our Museum shows like and has to offer. It also takes me away.
To have enough displays to both travel with and showcase inside the museum requires me to go out into the desert searching for bones. Often I am given parts and skulls by locals that still need to be worked on before they can sit on a shelf inside the museum. None of this work is easy or fast.
Our Collection requires cleaning. The more we handle it the more we risk breakage.
We provide tutoring and classes that can be booked online.
Having the special purpose salvage permits to retrieve fallen birds from the roads and highways, is important for the work that we do. But this also requires us to be able to receive a call or message then go to the location as soon as possible.
We do community projects like Adopt a Highway where we pick up trash along the Highway , we also set up a tent with volunteers showing bones and providing safety information.
There is a posted number on our door along with information taking you to our website. We receive calls and messages regularly asking anything from snake information to an animal down on the road to what to do when there’s a bobcat in your yard. We try to respond within the hour or less.
So yes it is very possible and very real for us to be busy but not always at the DNA. We do come and go just like the wild ones. There’s not a pattern you could use to hunt us!
To be everything to everyone isn’t possible. But the DNA never set out to accomplish that! We offer to meet you at the level you are at and go from there! But you do need to let us know you are coming and what you have in mind!
Want to learn the basics about staying safe in the desert? Over here! Want some place to take a family member or friend all by themselves and show them cool desert stuff? Over here! Want to learn about anatomy ? Over here!!
It’s okay to be different. We fully embrace all that is unique and wonderful about being different, being special . Different is harder to describe. But different is what we are.
Much like a Crested Saguaro, you might have to go out of your way, make plans and drive to see one but it’s worth it.
Contact us for your trip to the DNA’s Museum.
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