For a River Heritage Museum at Grand Canyon National Park

FAQ’s

What is the Grand Canyon River Heritage Coalition?

The Grand Canyon River Heritage Coalition, Inc. (“GCRHC”) is an independent, non-profit Arizona public charity working for and solely dedicated to the establishment of a Grand Canyon river heritage museum at Grand Canyon National Park.  Please see our “About Us” page for more detailed information about the Coalition, its organizational members, its primary partners, and how we operate.

What is the Coalition’s goal?

GCRHC’s exclusive focus is to advocate for and support the establishment of a permanent, state-of-the-art Grand Canyon river heritage museum located within a rehabilitated and re-purposed historic Laundry Building at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim Village.  Grand Canyon National Park’s collection of historic watercraft and related artifacts would form the core of the museum’s content and surrounding visitor experience.

What is the Grand Canyon River Heritage Museum?

The proposed Grand Canyon River Heritage Museum would serve as the chief repository, permanent home of, and primary public venue for Grand Canyon National Park’s collection of historic river boats and related artifacts.  The vision is to create a state-of-the-art museum experience through which the public can interact and benefit from these materials, where they can tell their rich stories of explorers and adventurers who tackled the mighty Colorado River, and how this history underlies today’s river experience.

Where will the museum be located, and when can I visit?

The proposed river heritage museum was to be housed within a structure known as the “Laundry Building,” one of the principal historic buildings at Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim Village.  This striking stone structure is located in an eye-catching site, just south across the railroad tracks from the Bright Angel Lodge. The Grand Canyon River Heritage Coalition was very pleased to have previously entered into a partnership agreement with the National Park Service to pursue the development of the museum. Unfortunately, the NPS has since declined to move the effort forward, citing new objectives and competing priorities. Unless and until the National Park Service decides to revisit the question of redeveloping the South Rim historic district with an emphasis on expanding interpretative visitor opportunities, as opposed to concessioner managed and directed commercial business development, the river heritage museum effort cannot move forward. 

How much will the museum cost?

The current projected cost of the proposed river heritage museum is approximately $10 million.  This includes renovation of the Laundry Building and the design, fabrication and installation of the museum’s exhibits and related content.  Please see Section 7 of the Grand Canyon River Heritage Museum Feasibility Study for more on the project’s current cost estimate.

How can I support the Coalition and the river heritage museum proposal?

Please join our electronic mailing list and consider making a donation today.  All donations are used solely to support and advocate for the Grand Canyon river heritage museum proposal.  Joining our mailing list will allow us to keep you updated on the Coalition’s efforts and important project developments.  We will let you know of important news and advocacy opportunities through which you can contribute to the river heritage museum proposal.

Are donations tax deductible?

Yes.  GCRHC is an independent Arizona non-profit public charity (Federal tax ID number 45-2765631).   All donations to GCRHC are fully tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.  All donations are used solely to support and advocate for the Grand Canyon River Heritage Museum proposal.

Can I join the Grand Canyon River Heritage Coalition?

No.  GCRHC is not currently organized to accept individual memberships, but may move in this direction in the future.  Please join our electronic mailing list to stay in touch with our advocacy work, and we will be able to let you know of any future individual membership opportunities.

How is the Coalition governed?

GCRHC’s work is directed by its all-volunteer governing Board of Directors.  A representative from each of the organizations within the Coalition serves on the Executive Committee, as do a number of at-large individuals.  The Coalition’s Advisory Committee provides advice and counsel on matters relating to the Park’s historic boat collection and related river heritage and historical issues.

Is the Coalition raising money for the Laundry Building’s renovation and museum exhibits?

No.  GCRHC is raising funds to support its own independent advocacy of the river heritage museum proposal.  There are a number of activities, developments and NPS planning decisions that must take place before work on the Laundry Building and the museum’s content can begin.  The Coalition’s current work is focused on advancing the project to this point in the development cycle.

How did the Grand Canyon river heritage museum proposal come about?

The Grand Canyon river heritage museum proposal grew from the need to properly conserve and protect the Park’s irreplaceable collection of historic watercraft and related artifacts.  A proper facility is needed where the public can interact and benefit from the boat collection and the rich heritage of exploration and adventure it embodies.  There has been talk of a comprehensive South Rim river museum for many years, and today, the NPS formally recognizes the proposal in its park planning documents.

Does the National Park Service endorse the river heritage museum proposal?

The NPS previously endorsed the river heritage museum proposal and had incorporated the boat museum concept, housed in a rehabilitated and re-purposed historic Laundry Building, in its comprehensive redevelopment planning for the “Village Interpretative Center” zone within the South Rim Village. Unfortunately, the current Grand Canyon National Park superintendent and his staff have since declined to move the effort forward, citing new objectives and competing priorities. Unless and until the National Park Service decides to revisit the question of redeveloping the South Rim historic district with an emphasis on expanding interpretative visitor opportunities, as opposed to concessioner managed and directed commercial business development, the river heritage museum effort cannot move forward.

What watercraft is in the historic boat collection, and what is their condition and level of protection now?

Please visit our “The Boats” page for specific information on the historic boat collection’s content.  After years of neglect, the boats are now being properly housed in a maintenance warehouse at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.  Preservation, stabilization and conservation work on the boats has been ongoing for a number of years, and the collection is mostly in good shape and ready for permanent display in a proper facility.  Various river heritage artifacts are stored in multiple locations within the Park in varying degrees of safety and protection.  It is imperative that these irreplaceable resources eventually be moved to a proper facility where the public can experience these materials and the stories and history they embody.

What was the purpose behind the NPS river heritage museum feasibility study?

The purpose of the Grand Canyon River Heritage Feasibility Study was to examine the issues and cost associated with renovating and re-purposing the historic Laundry Building as a state-of-the-art river heritage museum.  A secondary purpose was to begin conceptualizing possibilities for the museum’s design and visitor experience.  The NPS commissioned an interdisciplinary team lead by Pfau Long Architects of San Francisco to conduct the study.  The final report was delivered in June, 2010.

When will the public provide its input on the museum proposal?

As the museum project moves forward, the NPS will undertake the required public involvement process.  All interested parties will be asked to contribute their views and suggestions to help the NPS develop the best museum visitor experience possible.  GCRHC will actively participate in all future NPS planning efforts related to the river heritage museum proposal.

I have some historic boating memorabilia or artifacts that might belong in the museum; what should I do?

If you possess any Grand Canyon-related historic boating materials that you believe might properly belong in the proposed Grand Canyon River Heritage Museum, please write to Grand Canyon National Park, and send GCRHC a copy of your correspondence.  The Park’s address is:  Superintendent, P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ, 86023.  Please describe the material in detail and provide all information you possess regarding its provenance.  Include photographs of the item, and suggest its inclusion in the Park’s collection of river-related artifacts identified for eventual placement in the museum.

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