After opening in 2021, the Heritage Center has made strides to reach the level of immersive detail that it has today. Boasting impressive interactive displays that allow attendees to learn the history of Clovis from the founding of the city to the founders themselves, the museum offers different parts of history dating up to World War I that a variety of people will find engrossing.
Tom Wright, Chairman for the board of directors for the Clovis Veterans Memorial District, said that the Heritage Center started with one small idea and grew to what it is today.
Wright said that it all started when a group of people wanted to preserve some of the history of Clovis, and since then has grown so much that they have plans to accommodate more of those needs.
“Our plans are to expand, to double the size of this exhibit space and just keep making it bigger and better,” Wright said.
Alongside the plan to expand the museum is the mission to continuously rotate out exhibits in hopes of showcasing different periods of time and how they directly impacted the city of Clovis.
“One thing that one of the previous directors was adamant about is, that ‘this can’t be a place where people bring junk and it sits there for ten years’ and so it will always be changing, probably about once a year,” Wright said.
The theme is set around World War I and how the city of Clovis was incorporated coinciding with the dates of World War I. Wright said when they change the theme next year it’ll be a different experience for people to see and encounter, and next year’s theme is set around World War II.
Throughout the museum are interactive exhibits that provide an immersive and oftentimes humorous audio depiction of the specific exhibit.
One such exhibit is a projection of Clovis Cole, that begins to speak to attendees when they approach the exhibit. In his speech Cole describes history in California and how life was in the early days of the Central Valley.
Another interactive exhibit that drew the attention of many attendees is the miniature display of the Big Dry Creek Flume that provided the lumber for the lumber industry in the Valley.
In the exhibit, attendees can interact and see how the flume functioned in the late 1800’s.
Alongside the miniature display is also a portion of the flume, sectioned out for attendees to see. Large in scale, the portioned out section of the flume provides context for the size and scope of service the flume provided to the Valley during the 1800’s.
A main focus for the Heritage Center Museum is to provide the museum as a resource for students to visit and learn about history from a local perspective.
Lorenzo Rios, CEO of the Clovis Veterans Memorial District, said that they are working with organizations like Clovis Unified and Fresno County Office of Education to inform educators about the historical resources in the area such as the 9/11 Memorial and the Heritage Center Museum.
Many teachers, Rios said, aren’t aware of the museum or memorials that they could bring the students to on field trips, and Rios said he’d like them to know these resources are available.
“Educators are not alone and we have a program that has been built with a curriculum in mind and we want to partner with as many educators and not just the school district, we also know that we have parochial schools, folks that do at home learning, we encourage all of those outlets that are educating our next generation to come through this space. It’s made available for the public, it’s free for the public to come in. For our educators we encourage them to come out here and bring the students here to witness this firsthand,” Rios said.
Future plans, Rios said, include an exhibit dedicated to the Clovis Rodeo in an installment due to the historical significance the rodeo has had in the Clovis community.
The intent, Rios said, is to help expose people to different stories that are local, and that the intent is not to get people to go visit the museum to get satisfied, but instead Rios said he hopes it will spark a curiosity that will encourage folks to see additional museums that are throughout the Central Valley.