For a River Heritage Museum at Grand Canyon National Park

Conceptualizing The Possibilities: The Grand Canyon River Heritage Museum Project

The vision for the Grand Canyon River Heritage Museum has its roots in the 1995 General Management Plan of Grand Canyon National Park. Consistent with the Park’s purpose, this guiding document seeks to encourage “appropriate use and adaptive reuse of historic structures, while preserving historic integrity.” In a world where we increasingly look for ways to live lightly, the concepts of sustainability and the adaptive re-use of historic buildings for new purposes are intriguing and hold great appeal.

But how do you ensure that the concept is actually workable? The NPS had already identified the historic Laundry Building (one of the original Fred Harvey service buildings), as a likely and appropriate home for the boats and river museum in its comprehensive 2004 Village Interpretative Area study. In 2009, the National Park Service commissioned a study to examine the feasibility of renovating and re-purposing the historic “Laundry Building” as the Grand Canyon River Heritage Museum.

This feasibility study was completed in August, 2010 and can be accessed on the Grand Canyon River Heritage Coalition (GCRHC) website, www.gcrivermuseum. org. It’s a great way to learn more about the building’s suitability for the historic boat displays, possible interior and exterior modifications, the components of the new museum, building materials, schematics, architectural renderings, and more…Take a look!

Amazingly enough, it has been almost a year since the Grand Canyon River Heritage Coalition was formed, bringing diverse stakeholder groups together to preserve our river heritage and share it with the world. I can tell you that as the Coalition members have worked collaboratively on this endeavor, our excitement has grown as we lay the initial foundation for future success. Currently, GCRHC is entering into discussions with our partners, the NPS and the Grand Canyon Association, to clarify roles and responsibilities and maintain forward momentum.

Make no mistake, this will be a long and expensive process, yet by the same token, we are thankful that we are not starting at “square one.” The Park has in its possession many of the historic craft, much of the painstaking conservation work has been finished, we have a detailed feasibility study that identifies a work- able building plan and location, we have knowledgeable experts to help us along the way, and most importantly, GCRHC and our partners have a vision and the depth of commitment to see it through. As the NPS Feasibility Study states,

“… the exciting opportunities for preservation, display and interpretation of the park’s boat collection, and the multiple stories there are to tell about so many related topics, from the stories of river characters, the quirky evolution of river craft, opportunities to connect with the river experience, to the linkages with evolving resource policy in the West, all add up to make this a potential “must visit” part of the south rim experience.”

We couldn’t agree more. Help us build momentum for this project by making a secure tax deductible donation on the GCRHC website or by mail. The firm support of our river community will be the critical first step as we heighten the Grand Canyon River Heritage Museum profile to a national and even international level. It all starts with you. Please make your tax deductible donation today!