The American Mule Museum (AMM) is working together with Laws Railroad Museum and the Death Valley Conservancy to build a Death Valley 20 Mule Team exhibit. This will be the first collaborative instillation the AMM has participated in and it will be located at the Laws Museum, four and a half miles north of Bishop on Highway 6.
A new building has been constructed to house this exhibit that will include reproductions of the wagons the 20 Mule Team pulled in Death Valley. Two of the three wagons are already on site. The wagon used to haul water is still being constructed and will hopefully be on site by Mule Days. The funds to build the three wagons were raised by the Death Valley Conservancy. This group collaboration will result in a unique venue to tell the history of the 20 Mule Team. The AMM has ordered a team of fiberglass mules to represent the Wheelers, or the mules that pulled closest to the front of the first wagon. Around this main installation will be exhibits that share the impact mules have had on the local area and the Western United States. Interpretive displays will share history of mules in the area and the jobs they performed including work related to agriculture, transportation, mining, and recreation.
This collaboration is one of the ways the AMM is using funds raised by members to uphold their mission while continuing to work towards a location to house the Mule Museum.
The American Mule Museum (AMM) is looking to a more modern museum model. The modern museum model is thinking outside of the box, or outside the building in this case. Today’s new museums are using three main exhibit examples that might not fit with everyone’s idea of how museums should look. One example is setting up standalone kiosk type exhibits in public spaces. Another way modern museums are building exhibits is working collaboratively with other organizations to install exhibits in already existing museums or public buildings. The third example of a modern museum utilizes the Internet, where a virtual museum can be built and information can be easily accessed at any time. The AMM is involved with all three of these models.
The AMM has already installed two standalone kiosk type exhibits in Bishop, CA. One is at the Tri-County Fair Grounds, just inside the main gate. The exhibit at the Tri-County Fair Grounds has nine panels of information and photographs. Most of the panels show examples of different ways mules have impacted the area. This exhibit can be accessed at just about any time and has helped spread information about mules and the AMM. The second outside exhibit installed by the AMM is at the Bishop City Park behind the Chamber of Commerce building. It is a small exhibit of two panels that informs people how mules have been used for packing in the Sierra Nevada and about the Bishop Mule Days celebration. The smaller exhibit is in a high traffic location and will help get the AMM more exposure to the general public. Both exhibits share great history and numerous pictures of mules at work.
The AMM is working collectively with Laws Railroad museum and the Death Valley Conservatory to build a large exhibit located at the Laws Museum. The exhibit will be in a large barn that will house reproductions of the wagons that were pulled by the Death Valley 20 Mule Team. This installation will include not only the wagons but other interpretive displays describing the work mules did in the Owens Valley. Because people are already open to learning new things while visiting a museum. Laws is an excellent location to expose people to the huge impact mules have had in the local area. Laws is also a controlled location to keep the exhibit safe and preserved. The AMM is continuously looking for new partners to help develop installations in new places.
The internet is a great tool for the AMM to share the information, which has been gathered so far, with the public. Information such as stories and photos are being archived so that they can be shared on the AMM webpage. Film clips and audio files can also be shared on the website. The webpage has proven to be an excellent way for people all over the world to share even more information about mules with the AMM.
The AMM has been in step with a modern idea of what a museum can be. Through these modern examples of how a museum can get information to the public the AMM is moving forward and continuing to grow. These are some of the ways the AMM is using funds raised to continue their mission.