J. W. Powell River History Museum

Green River, Utah

The tire repairman (he was a man…spell check wanted me to make this gender neutral but he was definitely male, so…) asked what we were going to do after he was finished fixing the RV tire and I said that we would go see the museum in town.  It had a big blue lettered sign that said “Museum” that was very visible from the road.

Museum Entrance J W Powell
This is the modest entrance to the J.W. Powell River History Museum in Green River, Utah.

His associates told me that the museum was about a ‘one armed guy who went down the Green River in a wooden boat’.  John Wesley Powell was the ‘one armed man’ and the museum was about the history of the Green River and its exploration.

This museum, called the J.W. Powell River History Museum is a locally (city) funded institution. The city of Green River is right on the Green River and located between Moab, to the south and Arches National Monument, to the north.  The town gets around 750,000 transient visitors annually and many stop in to see the museum.  Peculiarly one of the staff members who spoke with us for quite a while said that he was familiar with Belton, TX and the BCM because his wife graduated from Baylor and they spent time in Belton as he was from south Austin.

Modest Entrance JW Powell Museum
The big blue sign that is readable from the road just says MUSEUM and along the side behind the tree and shrub is the actual name. I hypothesize that the name would be less attractive to the passing general public than a sign saying just “Museum”.

He was quick to say that the river museum was short of staff and so he filled several positions.  He also spoke of the difficulty that the institution has with the city imposing its ideas for the museum’s exhibits.  The basement is now displaying, permanently, dinosaurs and other fossils, which took money from the budget needed to upgrade and help maintain the river history exhibits.  They do not do much fundraising and they are dependent upon a few federal grants.  I got the impression that grant writing falls to the way side because of the high turnover in the staff.

I am excited to learn more about the Nevada State Museum’s operation as another publicly funded institution.  I regret not having spent more time at the J.W. Powell River History Museum with some specific interview questions ready and a way to take notes.

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