River of Time Museum & Exploration Center Reopens After Pandemic, Nearly $100,000 Renovation
The L. Alan Cruikshank River of Time Museum & Exploration Center is ready to welcome back visitors beginning March 26 after being closed for nearly two years. During the closure due to the pandemic, a nearly $100,000 renovation was done at the facility, thanks to grants and support from donors.
As part of the renovation, the museum was updated to include an art gallery and exhibition space where it will feature stunning works by Fountain Hills’ first resident, Sally Atchinson. The gallery will change several times throughout the year and feature a selection of artists and exhibits related to the Southwest.
“After more than 18 months and lots of construction, we are thrilled to announce our interior space has been reimagined with interactive displays, increased interpretive elements and expanded stories,” said Cherie Koss, the museum’s executive director. “We are ready to welcome back patrons and share the remarkable history of the Lower Verde River Valley.”
A grand reopening is scheduled for March 26. The family-friendly event will include crafts, hands-on activities, a scavenger hunt, prizes and lessons on Arizona’s native plants and indigenous animals. There will also be live characters in costume sharing facts and community dignitaries welcoming back guests.
The L. Alan Cruikshank River of Time Museum & Exploration Center in Fountain Hills explores how the history of this region and present-day lives are connected. As visitors journey through the museum, its exhibits showcase the ways desert dwellers — from the ancient Hohokam and the Yavapai to early ranchers and modern-day settlers — found ways to create an oasis in the Verde Valley as well as Fountain Hills.
The museum’s first gallery hallway exhibit features the Smithsonian Traveling Poster Exhibit titled “Journey, Stories.” The display takes a broad look at expansion and migration from earliest settlers and Native American displacement to the effects that advancements in transportation have on mobility. Visitors are challenged to compare their “migration” stories to those depicted in the exhibit.
“Our mission is to engage, entertain, educate and inspire people across the state about the importance of the Lower Verde River Valley through ever-changing, relevant topics and experiences,” Koss said. “While the last couple of years have been trying, we know the reopening will provide visitors an eye-opening view into the region by using natural and social sciences to not only preserve and interpret the past, but to understand the present and promote future sustainability.”