Museum Lectures

Museum Spotlight

Twice a year the Hi-Desert Nature Museum will host “Museum Spotlight” a mini-event series, which will include an educational micro-exhibit, complimentary lectures and more on various subjects of interest to the community. 

Participation for any of the Museum Spotlight programs will be offered on a pay-what-you-can basis.

Our next Museum Spotlight will be focused on “Desert Astronomy” and takes place October 8, 2022. For more information on this particular mini-event, visit the event page by clicking here.

Images above were taken during the Museum’s Hi-Noon Lecture Series, which have been discontinued.

Zoom Lectures

In place of in-person lectures, the Hi-Desert Nature Museum has offered Zoom Lectures in cooperation with other museums from the Morongo Basin and Coachella Valley. To catch the next Zoom lecture check out our Events Calendar here. The following are recordings of past lectures.

Slabbers, Scrappers and a Man of Faith

Presented by Sidney Burks on October 14, 2021 via Zoom

Slabbers, Scrappers, and a Man of Faith is the story of two places located at the southeast corner of the Salton Sea near Niland, California. Slab City is regaled as the “Last Free Place” to live. Here, residents live off the grid and march to their own drummer. 

Sidney Burks retired from the California Community College system as an instructor and administrator.  He is currently a full-time lecturer for California State University San Bernardino in Career Technical Studies. As an avid historian of the desert, Burks enjoys sharing what he learns and has been giving presentations to interested groups. Sid volunteers as a research docent at the Palm Springs Air Museum.

Long Life, Other Life: Giant Rock, the Integratron, and Van Tassel’s New Channels

Presented by Daniel Paul on August 24, 2021 via Zoom

Just outside of Giant Rock, on the night of August 24, 1953, former aerospace man George Van Tassel stated that Solgonda, a space person, visited him, took him upon his craft, and most importantly presented Van Tassel with instructions on how to build a life extension machine.  Originally named the College of Universal Wisdom Research Laboratory, the unfinished machine is better known as the Integratron. Daniel Paul’s lecture will provide an overview of George Van Tassel, the significance of Giant Rock for him, and the Integratron as manifestation of what Van Tassel learned there.

This lecture is a part of the project, “Our Giant Rock: A Community Touchstone in the Mojave,” and was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Salton Sea Life: Revisiting a Memorable childhood with Mom

Presented by Donna Burns on July 8, 2021 via Zoom

Donna Burns grew up as a pioneer on 500 acres owned by her grandfather at the Salton Sea. Her Mom, Helen Burns, began selling beverages and snacks out of a plywood shack. Within a decade, Helen’s fledging business had become an entertainment destination. Helen wrote a book, started a newspaper and held dances, festivals, skits and contests. She was the unofficial leader of the community. But as the popularity of the sea declined, and after Helen died, the magic of those years was in danger of being forgotten.


Joshua Tree Genome Project

Joshua trees are survivors. The twisty desert trees have been a keystone of the Mojave Desert plant community since before humans settled North America, and they’ve been important to the people and animals that have called the desert home. Now, however, warming climates threaten Joshua trees with environmental change occurring faster than they can adapt on their own. To help ensure they survive the next century, the Joshua Tree Genome Project is developing the genomic data to identify genes that help Joshua trees survive extreme climate conditions, and to assess the adaptability of Joshua tree populations for conservation planning.  He will describe the basic science behind the work, and outline the Genome Project’s plans to help conserve one of California’s most distinctive and iconic species.

Zoom Lectures are brought to you by the Desert Lecture Collaborative