The L. Alan Cruikshank River of Time Museum remains closed for now, but staff has been busy behind the closed doors.

Executive Director Cherie Koss outlined the number of changes and plans in a recent press release.

Partnering with Museum Pros, a Chandler-based museum design firm, the River of Time Board of Directors has approved accessing reserve funds to continue the renovation that began in the orientation room last summer.

Thanks to a grant from the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation 202 funding, the completed first experience welcomes visitors to the beauty and diversity found along the Lower Verde River. Video and sound engage visitors as they paddle along the river through time from pre-human history through today.

The remainder of the renovation is defined by interactivity. The visitor will be immersed not only in the history of the Lower Verde River Valley, but experiential elements will replicate life along this historic waterway. Specially curated artifacts and fabricated replicas will lend realism to each display.

The old favorites will still be part of the story, but they will be incorporated in enhanced, enriched interpretive displays. Jack Swilling, Tacky the Quarter horse and the old water tank remain, but their narrative has been expanded to include details about life in early Phoenix, Fort McDowell and P-Bar Ranch days.

Visitors will be encouraged to come back to visit often as more stories are rolled out every month or so.

For those who fancy themselves amateur curators, a new maker room allows participants to design their own exhibits and pose for selfies with their finished masterpieces. A variety of artifacts and props will be available to help with the design.

Students of all ages will find the STEAM-related activities located throughout the museum well worth discovering. There will be lots of opportunities for selfie documentation.

Koss said the staff and board are pleased to continue the partnership with the Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce as a satellite location. There will be updated space for materials highlighting the wealth of opportunities in town.

Since the satellite location has been closed since 2019, museum docents will receive a refresher course from chamber President and CEO Betsy LaVoie to bring them up to date on all that is happening now that things are opening up.

The human story from early Yavapai and Hohokam through present day Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Fountain Hills and the Verdes is woven throughout the museum as the common thread that allowed for the human settlement of this area, the Lower Verde River Valley.

A number of elements of the renovation are expected to be completed by mid- to late-summer. Although no date has been set, the museum staff and board look forward to welcoming visitors to the new space sometime in the fall.

Although the museum remains closed, staff monitors emails and phone messages. Email, or call 480-837-2612.