By: Art Wolf
For those museum folks who are driving from Utah or Nevada or other nearby states to the WMA Annual Meeting in Palm Springs, there are many ways to travel. My favorite run to Palm Springs follows US 95 south past the glorious flower blooms and giant photovoltaic arrays near Boulder City all the way to the historic mining town of Searchlight. Highway 164 goes west from there past the Walking Box Ranch, home to Clara Bow and Rex Bell, and through a Joshua Tree forest and over the Cali border to Nipton, where one can buy the prized CA lottery tickets.
Just west of Nipton there is a turnoff to the south that denotes the most beautiful part of the drive, through Cima to the restored train station in Kelso and then further south to go under I-40. At Kelso the road follows a valley between The Devil’s Playground to the west and the Providence Mountains to the east. From I-40 it is not far to Amboy, one of those creepy little mostly-deserted desert towns that were featured in some of the early Palm Springs weekend-type exploitation movies, where the innocent tourist family was usually harassed by biker gangs or cruisers on a joyride. Then, it is south to Twenty-Nine Palms and Yucca Valley with an impressive descent down to Palm Springs. The roads are good, and there is little to no traffic until Amboy. And just so you know, not everything that happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas (witness the recent spectacle of Prince Harry’s bum: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/oct/10/nv-naked-prince-vegas-ad/ ). This year the museums of Las Vegas are coming down for the WMA meetings and will have a booth celebrating some of the things we have in common with Palm Springs and some of the new stories we have to offer.
Besides the attractions and diversions for which Las Vegas is known worldwide, we have here a fast-growing cultural life led by nearly 40 museums and a large number of related attractions. Those of you who last attended WMA in Las Vegas over twenty years ago will be amazed at the breadth and depth of our new and evolving institutions. We offer a wide spectrum of museums, many related to our unique history and serving both our resident and visiting audiences. Stop by our booth in the Exhibit Hall and see for yourself what we are up to, and follow the daily tweets from our participating museums. Some artifacts are making the journey, too, including Liberace’s candelabra, slot machines, and showgirl costumes. Las Vegas museums have also contributed a basket of bling to the WMA Live Auction that includes a museum tour with the host of the popular Pawn Stars show and a high dollar’s worth of values in shows and services. There are also job openings in Las Vegas and you can get that information in the booth as well! We are excited about the meeting in Palm Springs. It’s time to put down the convertible top and hit the road! Arthur H.Wolf is Principal of WOLF Consulting in Las Vegas, and the compiler of the annual Las Vegas Museum Benchmarking Survey.