Photos Courtesy of the River of Time Museum
Looking for something fun and local to do with the family? Visit the River of Time Museum and Exploration Center located at 12901 N. La Montana Drive, #4742, in nearby Fountain Hills.
Just reopened after a huge remodeling project, the River of Time Museum celebrates the Lower Verde Valley River region and the people who inhabited what is now Fountain Hills and the surrounding communities hundreds of years ago. As visitors journey through the museum, they encounter exhibits that showcase the way desert dwellers – from the ancient Hohokam and the Yavapai to early ranchers and modern-day settlers – found ways to create an oasis in the desert.
Like most businesses, the museum was forced to close because of COVID-19 but the nonprofit organization used the time to embark on a significant remodeling project, adding new hands-on exhibits and art installations from local creators. The nearly $100,000 renovation, made possible thanks to grants and support from donors, helped revitalize the museum, which now features updated interior space, interactive displays, more interpretive elements, and expanded stories about the area’s earliest inhabitants.
“Our ultimate goal with the remodel was to introduce a facility that reaches beyond the traditional concept of a museum and engulfs the visitor in experiences designed to entertain and educate while sharing the multitude of stories that depict life in the Lower Verde River Valley and emphasize the role water played in supporting that life,” says Cherie Koss, the museum’s executive director.
With the recent remodel, the museum introduced several pre-human residents including Arizona’s official dinosaur, Sonorasaurus, a previously unknown brachiosaurid sauropoda, and a bat cave exhibit featuring bats and research currently being conducted by the local McDowell Sonoran Conservancy field team. Partnerships with neighboring organizations like these will allow for up-to-date and ever-changing information on research to be incorporated in future exhibits.
Interactive displays at the River of Time Museum include a one-of-a-kind, augmented reality sand table. The tactile exhibit can be manipulated to create topographic representations of mountains, streams, and various weather patterns. Visitors can also play archaeologist, digging in the sand to uncover dinosaur bones.
“While the last couple of years have been trying, we know the newly remodeled facility will provide visitors an eye-opening view into the region and a new appreciation for what our ancestors encountered as they worked to develop a new life in the Valley,” Koss adds. “The River of Time Museum is a place where locals can come and experience how cool Arizona history can be first-hand, and we cannot wait to welcome everyone back.”
For more information about the museum, including hours of operation, events, tickets, and more, visit riveroftime.museum.