Maturango Museum offers fun, educational opportunities this summer

On the hunt for summer fun: Part 1 in a series

Maturango Museum offers fun,  educational opportunities this summerBy TIMMY NEIPP II, News Review Correspondent

Maturango Museum has always been a favorite gathering place for local families, who add to the high volume of visiting traffic. But with school out of session, the museum is ramping up activities that cater to local residents.

Starting Monday, June 12, the museum will launch its summer school class through the Ridgecrest Parks and Recreation Department.

“It will be for four days, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and will be including things like orienteering, animal and nature studies and a star-gazing component,” said Debbie Benson, executive director of the museum.

The class will offer classroom instruction, as well as hands-on experiences, for each area of study. For the astronomy course, volunteers will bring the inflatable observatory for students to experience.

“You go inside, and they see the stars and planets, and then that will also feed into the orienteering, because there was a time when that was the only way people could tell where they were — through the stars,” said Benson.

Sign-ups will be available through the city’s website,

But even if you’re not looking to enroll in the course, Benson noted that the museum is a wonderful place for families in search of opportunities for education and fun.

“People stop by and talk, we get to see the little kids, they come and ring the bell — sometimes we don’t know they’re there except you hear the bell ring, and that’s our first clue.”

Benson further promotes family visits to the museum with one day each month where no admission is charged. “The second Saturdays are always free,” said Benson, “so that’s a good opportunity for whole families to come in.

“This next Saturday, John Linder and his wife will be coming in and talking about aquatic insects. He will have hands on activities and he will show basically all the bugs that live in the water.”

Inside the museum, visitors can browse exhibits that highlight the natural and historical resources in and around the Indian Wells Valley.

“We teach the local history, the natural history and archeology,” said Benson.

That archaeology is not only significant to us, she said, but to the travelers from all over the globe who come here to visit the highest concentration of petroglyphs in the entire North American continent. “This is a place where people have lived since Paleo-Indian times. That’s quite a long history of human habitation.”

Benson said that Maturango is a wonderful place for children to learn about heritage and geology — adding that some of these studies can be conducted outside on the grounds themselves.

“You can go on the labyrinth and walk around, put yourself on the sundial and use your arms above your head see what time of day it is, you can go out and see if the tortoises are out and about, and if it isn’t too hot, they will be out in their habitat.”

Benson wants the natural beauty to inspire children to feed their creative side. “We also support the arts, and then that is something else that the Docents do,” she said, referring to an ongoing program where volunteers present programs at local schools.

One of the new activities to come to the museum is the popular new trend where members of the community paint and hide rocks, which can be kept or rehidden (see also “Ridgecrest, CA Rocks” on Facebook).

“It’s evidently a good place to find rocks — I just saw a family go hiding a bunch of rocks out there,” said Benson.

“The other evening we had a whole family here — both parents, some children running around, another in a stroller — and they were all engaged in the activity together. That’s kind of a rare sight these days, and I’m glad we can still have things that give our families opportunities do to something together.”

Pictured: Museum Director Debbie Benson finds, and promptly rehides, a rock painted by a local artist on the museum grounds. (For details see “Ridgecrest, CA?Rocks”?on Facebook.) -- Photo by Rebecca Neipp

Story First Published: 2017-06-09