Blackwater Draw Museum Gets an Update

The Blackwater Draw National Museum is getting a modern look at its new location on the Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) campus. The new location in Lea Hall will greatly benefit both the Portales and ENMU communities.

Jenna Domeischel, the Curator of the Blackwater Draw Museum, standing in front of her favorite case of pottery displayed in the museum. Photo by Jena Slater

One thing many people do not realize is that everything going on display in the Blackwater Draw Museum must go through a processing stage upon arrival to make sure that it is correctly documented. There are many hours of processing that go on behind the scenes to make sure all pieces can be displayed in the museum. This is but one of the many jobs that Blackwater Draw Museum Curator Jenna Domeischel accomplishes.

“I oversee the collections that Blackwater Draw Museum owns here, we hold the Calvin Smith Collection, a donated collection, and we take care of the Miles Anthropological Collection,” said Domeischel. Domeischel makes sure that these collections are properly cataloged as well as packaged correctly to ensure that the artifacts have the best protection possible.

This museum is designed to be child friendly, with a corner dedicated to children where they can read and hangout. The renovated museum is now located on campus, thus eliminating he need to travel the six miles out of Portales to visit it. Local community members, schools, ENMU community members and classes will find this new location very appealing.

It gives a countless number of new opportunities’ for field trips with its close proximity to the three other museums on ENMU’s campus. This new location makes scheduling field trips easier since. Educators can offer a fun and educational experience by visiting the many museums ENMU has while reducing their traveling expenses.

“Teachers are going to be able to bring their kids, [and] that’s going to be very new and very different,” Domeischel added. “Being here in a place where there’s three other museums within proximity, I think it will be good for the university and for us as a museum.”

A portion of the museum where "projectile points" will be displayed. Photo by Jena Slater

Renovators are making the most of the small room by using portable walls to section out the space and to give the room a maze-like aspect. This not only allows the space to feel bigger while looking at the cool artifacts, but also gives space to appreciate and enjoy experiencing the individual sections of the museum instead of walking in and seeing all of it at once.

George Crawford, Director of the Blackwater Draw Museum. Photo by Jena Slater

“I’ve been dreaming of making this place for 20 years and we finally got the go ahead a few years ago from Dr. Gamble,” according to George Crawford, the Director of the Blackwater Draw Museum.

There are various features which make the reinvented Blackwater Draw National Historic Landmark appealing to various individuals. Many of the people who come and visit Blackwater Draw National Historic Landmark are people who come solely out of the curiosity to find out more information for themselves. This can be accomplished by participating in research as well as working with the collections that are featured in the museum.

“Our function as an institution-and as an archaeological site-is not just to promote education about the site but also to facilitate the students and professionals who want to come here and work. Then they bring the information out so other people know about it as well and infuse that information,” said Domeischel.

“I think [the community] going to benefit from the updating,” said Crawford. “For the most part [the museum] is kind of frozen in time and this way I think it will be more active with the Anthropology Department and maybe with the Biology students, and everybody who has an interest in those things.”

The museum is expected to be opened in late spring of 2017 and there will be a nominal fee to view this museum.


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