History & Founders
Originally part of the Imperial Valley College, the original museum location was on Main St. in downtown El Centro. An earthquake in 1979 destroyed the building, but the collections were moved to temporary storage while a new building was built in Ocotillo. The original Imperial Valley College Desert Museum owes its beginnings to the hard work of archaeologists like Michael Barker, Morlin Childers, and Jay von Werlhof.
After decades of advocating and fundraising, the Imperial Valley Desert Museum Society developed a business plan (adopted in 2006), and completed construction of a brand new facility on October 2008. In January 2012 the facility had a 'soft opening' while completing a recuration project of its artifacts. Temporary and traveling exhibits rotated through the building until 2015, when the first two phases of a three phase permanent exhibition were installed.