Thursday, May 30, 2013

The John Wesley Powell Museum

On the third day of our trip to the Southwest, we stopped in Page, Arizona on the way to Zion National Park. Page, Arizona is a town that is beautifully situated surrounded by canyons and near Lake Powell. This lake was named after John Wesley Powell and in town stands a museum that is dedicated to sharing the mission and work of John Wesley Powell, a man who led expeditions down the Colorado River studying plant and animal life and geology during the expeditions.

The Powell Museum is quaint and homey with many interesting artifacts from the area and relating to expeditions of the Colorado River. The exhibits in the museum are about the history of the Colorado River expeditions, geology and paleontology of the area, history of the native peoples of the area and also the history of Page, Arizona.

Our visit to The Powell Museum was brief, but very interesting. I went with the first group and we were taken on a tour of the museum. A volunteer led our group backwards through the museum so that the other half of our group could start at the front. The volunteer was obviously very passionate about the museum and enthusiastic about sharing the artifacts in the museum with us. He also shared some more personal information, including information about why he volunteers and how he used to work at the museum. Our tour guide explained to us that we were going backwards through the museum and that the exhibits might seem random. In the end, I think most of our group agreed with him.

We started in the City of Page exhibit, which mostly included black and white pictures of the growth of the city. Our guide explained that since the city of Page helps fund the museum, they had to have an exhibit about the city and the history of it. From there we went into an exhibit about the paleontology in the area. There were rock slabs with dinosaur tracks in them and bones of ancient reptiles throughout the room. Our guide was extremely enthusiastic about this room and it was clear how interested he was in paleontology. He even explained how he helped discover one of the sets of tracks and that dinosaur tracks could be found anywhere around the city of Page. The next exhibit was a Navajo weaving exhibit that included some of the more beautiful examples of Navajo weaving that we saw our entire trip. Our guide was able to show us Navajo symbols in the weaving that really brought the art to life.

Outside of this exhibit was an area of the museum dedicated to the Anasazi people that used to inhabit the region. A cool interactive here allowed people to use tools that these people would have used to grind corn. Our group ended up spending a lot of time at this interactive, experiencing just how difficult it was for these people to survive. After this exhibit was some examples of geology from the area, which seemed almost like it was randomly added to the museum. From there we continued to the exhibit about expeditions down the colorado which was very interesting. Our tour ended at two old dioramas about expeditions on the Colorado river. Having a guide here was helpful because he was able to explain how the dioramas themselves are historic.

Overall, my experience in The John Wesley Powell Museum was very interesting. There was a lot of very interesting information and artifacts in this small museum. Our guide was very helpful in connecting us to the museum and explaining the mission of The Powell Museum. I think that the museum needed more of a flow between exhibits in order to pull all of the information together. Even though our visit was brief, we were able to learn a lot about the Colorado Plateau and the history of the area by visiting The Powell Museum.

                                                                                                City of Page exhibit.
                                                                               Examples of Navajo weaving.
                                                                Examples of dinosaur bones in The Powell Museum.
                                                                                            Geology exhibit.
                                                                Boat from an early expedition down the Colorado River.
                                                                                         Colorado expeditions exhibit.
                                                                        One of the two historic dioramas in the museum.

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