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Museum address:
309 S. Valley View Blvd., LV, 89107
inside Springs Preserve

Friends Reach Out to Low-Income Families with Upcoming Dino Discovery Event

By Joan Whitely

The Friends are launching our pilot program to improve museum access for households on extremely tight budgets by inviting the selected families to a Dino Discovery night 6-8 p.m. on March 16 at the museum.

This is largely a repeat of our highly successful dinosaur-themed family night held in July 2018. The key distinction is that this event is just for pilot program participants who have been selected by the Clark County School District from Title 1 elementary schools nearest the museum.

The schools are in ZIP codes with the lowest museum attendance, which makes sense, because schools are designated as Title 1 when a high number of students are in extremely low-income families. It also happens that these particular elementary schools have a high proportion of children from Spanish-speaking families.

As a result, the Friends have customized our March 16 event by offering dual-language materials for the invitation, the sheet for touring the gallery, and the feedback form parents will fill out at the end of Dino Discovery. As before, admission for families is free.

Spanish logo
The translated logo for the Dino Discovery Event

This time around, we are not offering raffle baskets because we don’t want to impose any cost on the families who attend, though we will offer several modest door prizes. So we do not need dinosaur book, toys, games or plushies.

Our prior dinosaur event turned out so well because JAG volunteers from Western High helped the numerous adult volunteers who ran the evening. So, please, help us again!

Installing the jungle vines

There are volunteer shifts to set up and prepare snacks on both March 15 (a Friday) and the morning and afternoon of March 16 itself. Adults who volunteer for the event need to arrive a half hour early, at 5:30 p.m. All volunteer shifts are detailed on our website's sign-up page.

Remember, you can invite a friend to serve along with you. Or, look at volunteering as a way to make new friends! WE NEED YOU!

Museum Honored with Visit by Nevada Elder Statesman, Joe Neal

By Joan Whitely

Local author John L. Smith delivered a "still shot" of NV elder statesman Joe Neal in his new book, The Westside Slugger which is a Neal biography. But Smith delivered a living, breathing Neal at the book's signing, held Jan. 26 at the museum.

Not every writer of a biography is wise enough to let his subject literally speak at a signing. But Smith — who describes his family’s Nevada roots as dating back to 1881 — selected a format that had Smith interviewing Neal as they sat in easy chairs in the museum’s events hall.

smith and neal
John L. Smith and Joe Neal

The signing was well attended. A number of former and present Nevada state senators were on hand and posed for a “class photo” afterward. Also present was Claytee White of UNLV’s Oral History Research Center. She wrote the book’s foreword and has spoken to the Friends about Las Vegas history.

Past and present Nevada senators. Seated: Joe Neal. From left to right: Richard 'Tick' Segerblom, Bob Coffin, Helen Foley, Dina Titus and Maggie Carlton, who is a member of Friends.

The biography’s full title is The Westside Slugger, Joe Neal’s Lifelong Fight for Social Justice. Maureen McDonough of the museum said the book should be available soon in its gift shop.

A Louisiana native, Neal was the first black member of the Nevada Senate, and served from 1973 to 2004. Over the course of his working life, he went from Las Vegas hotel porter to corporate executive to elected state official. As a senator, he worked for such issues as fire sprinklers in hotel rooms, voting rights for qualified ex-felons, and requiring parties who repossess an individual’s vehicle to refund the portion of the price that had been paid off.

Some highlights from the conversation

Below are some small nuggets from the Jan. 26 conversation between Smith and Neal, whose memory for detail and sense of humor remain keen.

Being a Museum Gallery Guide is Good for Your Health

By Dave Ford

A new phase of my life began in September last year, shortly after moving to Las Vegas. I became a Gallery Guide at Nevada State Museum Las Vegas (NSMLV) manning a “Kritter Kart” to educate visitors about Nevada’s beautiful and diverse wildlife. To become more fully involved in this activity, I found an old flannel shirt, jeans, vest, boots and a very wild wig with moustache included -- and morphed into Desert Dave, an old silver prospector given a grubstake by the museum in exchange for entertaining visitors. In this guise I am “doing my thing” each Saturday.

Desert Dave
Desert Dave is here!

The rewards are great – both mentally and emotionally. For me, I get to learn about my new home and (hopefully) motivate adults and especially children to take more interest in the beautiful wildlife, history and natural resources of Nevada. But on a purely emotional level there is nothing more beautiful than a child’s smile when they know the answer to a question.

As an example, a month ago I had a very smart young girl who knew all the answers to my questions. When I asked her how she knew so much, she proudly pointed to her mother standing by her side and explained she was being home-schooled. The young girl was so proud not to just know the answers but most of all for her mother’s love and caring. Such life experiences increase the “feel good” endorphins in a Guides body and help repair the damage of aging to our telomeres – all leading to a healthier and more fulfilling life.

little patron
Dave Ford with a little patron

I came by this business of a Gallery Guide quite honestly. In my last home, Monterey, California, I volunteered for the California’s Parks entertaining the public in Monterey’s historic 1830 adobes and did walking tours, relating funny and entertaining stories of Monterey’s historic past. Prior to that I actually worked for a living doing technical marketing of communication and military satellites. These various job assignments taught me how to interact with people by being funny, entertaining and personable.

Both in Nevada and in Monterey I always learned something from visitors. A few weeks ago at the museum I had as great conversation with an artist specializing in Native American ornamentation. From him I learned how a breast plate is made from animal bones. Interacting with the public is always three-dimensional – an interchange of knowledge as well as emotions. That is what makes public volunteering so special, educational and interesting.

For me, a major side benefit of volunteering at NSMLV is interacting with the museum’s staff professionals and the members of the supporting non-profit, Friends of the NSMLV. All are fun and interesting people that enhance the volunteer experience.

So in conclusion, some advice to readers of this article: If you have ever had an inkling to work with the public, to share your time and knowledge with strangers, to warm the heart of a child and their parents, to learn more about your world and relate it to visitors, to make new friends and be involved in a great group of interesting people – I would encourage you to talk with the museum staff about being a clone of Desert Dave.

The Friends 2018 Impact Report is Live

2018 income
The 2018 Income pie chart. See more in our 2018 Impact Report

If you have not yet read the Friends 2018 Impact Report, then you now have homework! We are very proud of all the accomplishments we've all experienced together. Combined with voluminous assistance and guidance provided by the museum, numerous volunteers, and our great patrons, we can happily reflect on a very successful year. To read about it in full, as well as to get a complete report of the funds raised and of the volunteer effort, among other news, please go to our site to read the report.

All events held at the museum and are free with paid admission or membership. No registration required unless otherwise noted. Friends general meetings are the 3rd Thurs. of month. The museum is at 309 S. Valley View Blvd., inside Springs Preserve, LV 89107
Wed. Feb. 6 2019 3:30 - 7 pm Teacher Meetup Help curators lead behind the scenes tour of the museum for new Clark County school teachers and serve refreshments. Museum event
Thu Feb 21 6 pm General Meeting Ottavio Gesmundo, a Las Vegas author, will discuss his book The Grand Gypsy: A Memoir. Friends event
Sat. Mar. 2 2019 2 pm Sally Denton book signing Discussion and signing of her book Passion and Principle: John and Jessie Fremont, the Couple Whose Power, Politics, and Love Shaped Nineteenth-Century America. Tour the Fremont Exhibit in the Changing Gallery. Museum event
Sat. Mar. 16 5:30 - 8 pm Dino Discovery Family Night for families in pilot program For invited guests Friends event

To see the complete schedule for the year, please go to our Events page.

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