Maturango Museum marks new era in history of survival

Maturango Museum marks new era in history of survivalBy LAURA QUEZADA

Staff Writer The News Review

Debbie Benson, Executive Director of the Maturango Museum, reacts to the effects of the pandemic by focusing on the human cost, “All the people who work here are people people. We all had to adjust. When you are in a people-oriented business, it is hard to have the people turn off that aspect of themselves when so much of what they do is based on interacting. It is a kind of grieving.

They still care about the museum, they don’t walk away. They do what they can. Everybody cut their hours. And our volunteers didn’t quit either. Many of them are still waiting for us to open so we can come back. We are in the middle of making history. It is not unlike what our role was during the earthquakes. We survived it. We make it through and then it becomes a part of our history. And that is part of the nature of museums themselves. It is the cultural and physical history of an area. So now this is part of our history.”

Financially the museum fared well. “We got a Paycheck Protection Program loan which meant we could pay people. We just received notification that the loan was forgiven. Those moneys were good. The public has donated a great amount of supportive funds when we have asked for funding. They have been very generous. The membership and community has been most kind.”

Even with COVID restrictions there are ways to enjoy the museum. The Museum Online Store is available and, locally, one can call the store at 760-375-6900 and Maureen can deliver your item at curbside. Online one can watch two Children’s Hour videos created by Mark Pahuta with docents; for access, e-mail Nora at nora@maturango.org . Also online is a video of a photography show of critters shot by local hikers at the Rademacher Hills.

The museum offers outdoor features which have been very popular with families. “ People can come and walk the labyrinth and people do. The labyrinth has been very handy because it involves physical activity and it is confined; they are following a path, they can get in and out. Parents also bring their children to look at the body clock where you stand and the sun shines on you and tells you what time it is; and at the solar system display you can walk all the way along the planets.”

The online store has a great selection. Benson’s current favorites are two books that everyone on her Christmas list received this year. Both books feature local history and current information. High Desert Double Exposures, by Mark Pahuta and Elizabeth Babcock where “Mark takes a historical photo and then shoots a photo in the exact location. It used to look like this and now it looks like this.” Sally Valiton’s, the word MATURANGO, “is an artist’s rendering of the word Maturango and all things about the museum.” It began as a work of art for the museum’s ArtiFacts Show. “Sally made this lovely little sketch book and we scanned it and printed it because it was so great.”

Benson emphasizes, “This community has been so supportive. I really feel that Ridgecrest, through all the things that we go through and are still going through, I find them a very supportive group of human beings. That is a value. When you know that your neighbors are going to stand behind you, it is important.”

Pictured: Debbie Benson Exc. Dir. of the Maturango Museum showcasing two favorites from the Museum’s gift shop. ‘High Desert Double Exposures’ and ‘The Word Maturango’. — Photo By Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2021-03-19