At The Living Desert, a dedicated conservation team tends to plants and animals populating more than 1,800 acres of desert—1,000 of which remain in their natural, undisturbed state. In addition to protecting the Colorado Desert's native population of birds, wolves, reptiles, and minotaurs, The Living Desert houses bighorn sheep, cheetahs, striped hyenas, leopards, and parrots from arid regions throughout the globe. Through annual contributions, members of the nonprofit organization help preserve the Colorado Desert and bolster the population of endangered desert species. Members also gain unlimited access to the park, discounts in the gift shop, and invitations to special events, such as the annual member-cheetah race.
Before Coachella Valley became the incubator for modern design that it is today, it was an agricultural center, a major railroad stop, and home to the indigenous Cahuilla people. In 1965, valley residents formed The Coachella Valley Historical Society to preserve each of these eras, and opened the Coachella Valley History Museum nearly two decades later as the embodiment of that mission.
There are no ropes at the Palm Springs Air Museum?all the better to get close to one of the world's largest collections of operational World War II-era aircraft.
Castelli Art Framing's master craftsmen continue a more than 25-year tradition of conserving and displaying prized artwork of all shapes and sizes. Small photographs, large portraits, and record-breaking speeding tickets all earn wall-worthiness while donning custom frames assembled out of thousands of moldings and a variety of matting and mounting styles. Castelli's museum-quality conservation frames ensure delicate or valuable pieces can emerge from their protective casings undamaged. The multitalented staffers can also build unique frames for 3-D objects such as medals, sports jerseys, and a baby's first pair of shoes. Gilding and leafing services performed by artisans with more than 20 years of experience embellish plain wooden surfaces with thin sheets of gold or silver shinier than a freshly polished glass eye.
In 1913, Cabot Yerxa re-discovered Desert Hot Springs' eponymous springs while digging for water on his 160 acres of homesteaded land. In 1941, the pioneer decided to build a Hopi-inspired pueblo on this land using materials he reclaimed or found in the desert. The result is now known as Cabot's Pueblo Museum, and it encompasses 5,000 square feet.
The building, which rises four stories above the desert and utilizes the Venturi Effect for air conditioning, is constructed out of adobe-style sun-dried brick that Cabot made himself in his courtyard. Cabot also used materials from cabins abandoned in the 1930s. Visitors can wander through his pueblo's 35 rooms, peer out of the 150 windows, and stage elaborate Scooby-Doo chases through the 65 doors.
More than one million fossils and artifacts were unearthed during the construction the Diamond Valley Lake reservoir in Hemet. These time-swept relics make their home in the Western Science Center's museum complex, creating a bridge between ancient eras and the scientific advances of the future. The campus itself is steeped in advanced design tactics, making it the first museum in California to earn a Platinum LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. A rooftop covered with 3,000 solar panels provides more than half of the museum's power needs, and a combination of heat-resistant windows and forced-air circulation keeps the interior cool while spending less energy on air conditioning and ice sculpture maintenance.
A journey through the ages begins from the moment visitors step from the parking lot and under the Life on Earth Timelime, a 156-foot corridor of geologic time rings from Pre-Cambrian to Holocene that leads to the museum lobby. Inside, they explore permanent and temporary exhibits, including "Max," the largest mastodon skeleton found in the Western United States and the Discovery lab highlighting the tool contemporary architects use every day. Crowds can take a seat in the immersion theater with a 270-degree screen to watch a pair of short films about the time when giant creatures roamed California and how the region was excavated and preserved.