Tortoise Tales: Newsletter of the Hi-Desert Nature Museum 
Coliseum in Rome



MBCAC Art Tours Logo

As part of the Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council's HWY 62 Art Tours 2011, and in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Tours, the museum is pleased to host the Art Tours Collective Show.  This dynamic exhibition will feature the artwork of many artists participating in the Open Studio Tours being held October 22-23 and October 29-30.  The HWY 62 Art Tours encompass all of the arts of the Morongo Basin during this two weekend celebration showcasing music, performance and honoring the best in visual arts.  The Open Studio Tours allows the visitor to experience working studios and purchase original art directly from the artists. 


Opening Reception

Friday, September 9 

4:30 - 7:00 p.m.

FREE to the Public


On display September 10 through November 5


Museum Logo

The museum has launched two fundraising campaigns to enable us to continue providing quality educational programs and exhibitions for residents and visitors.  Help preserve our local history, art, culture, and natural science by becoming a museum member, or buy a brick in the entry way of the museum with your personalized engraved inscription.  Information on these programs is available at the museum's reception desk or on our web site.


Thanks to Bruce Jones Dentistry for their business membership!


Desert Tortoise

Copper Mountain College Desert Studies provides a unique learning environment for everyone in order to promote the study of desert living, desert ecosystems, desert cultures, and sustainable desert practices.  You can help support this important program by sponsoring a wild tortoise that lives in the Tortoise Preserve at Copper Mountain College.  Your tax-deductible gift helps fund educational programs in Desert Studies.


Click here for more information on the Desert Studies Sponsor-a-Tortoise Program!












What do you get when you combine the science of archaeology with the fun of Lollapalooza?  ARCHAEOPALOOZA!! In celebration of California's Archaeology Month, join us for an exciting day of archaeological adventures and take a trip back in time through hands-on activities and presentations.


Lectures by Noted Archaeologists - Bird Singers

Native American Craft Demonstrations

Hands-on Crafts and Games for Kids

Exhibitors - Displays - Food - Lots of Fun for All Ages!!


Saturday, October 15, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Yucca Valley Community Center Complex

FREE Admission!


Organized by the Town of Yucca Valley, Morongo Basin Historical Society, Joshua Tree National Park, and Copper Mountain College

Sponsored by Z107.7 FM and Hi-Desert Publishing


NASA Solar SystemStarry Nights Festival

Celebrate our exceptional sunny days and starry nights at Yucca Valley's 15th annual Starry Nights Festival.  This event will feature presentations by noted astronomers, a twilight reception and evening of stargazing. 


Astronomy-themed Science Saturday at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum, 11:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Astronomy Lectures in the Yucca Room, 1:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Twilight Reception in the Yucca Room, 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Stargazing, 8:00 - 10:00 p.m., presented by the Southern California Desert Video Astronomers


Saturday, October 1

Yucca Valley Community Center Complex

Admission is FREE thanks to the generous support of the Andromeda Society


Antelope Ground SquirrelScience Saturdays

Join us for days of discovery during Science Saturdays!  These programs will ignite your children's curiosity by presenting information and performing experiments relating to biological and physical sciences.  All programs will be facilitated by our Museum Educator.  It is recommended that children be of school age for this program. 


11:00 - 11:30 a.m.

September 3: Desert Creatures

September 17: Archaeology

October 1: Astronomy

October 22: Spiders

FREE! No pre-registration required


Weird California1st Wednesday Program
"Weird California"

Greg Bishop, one of the authors of the world famous book "Weird California, Your Travel Guide to California's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets," will be joining us for our 1st Wednesday Program in October.  Greg will discuss stories from the book and share many of the adventures that did not make it into the publication.  The material is fun and provides a different perspective into the unique qualities of the California Desert.


Wednesday, October 5, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.

$5 donation to the MBHS at the door

Come early - space is limited


Reminder:  The 1st Wednesday Program on September 7 will be archaeologist John Hale sharing interesting stories and insights into the the life of Elizabeth and William Campbell, early 29 Palms archaeologists.


Gladiator Spearing LeopardRoman Colosseum

The Colosseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre, was built in the center of Rome, the largest colosseum built in the Roman Empire.  Construction began in 72 AD under the Emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus.  Capable of seating 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and Classical mythology dramas.  The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era.  It was later reused for a variety of purposes including housing, workshops, religious quarters, a quarry, and Christian shrine.  Archaeological studies of the colosseum's underground staging area have discovered a vast network of man-powered pulleys, ropes and other mechanisms that enabled trained workers to make animals and scenery appear and disappear beneath the wooden floor as if by magic.


Did You Know?

* As early as 1643, the Colosseum was a popular destination for botanists due to the variety of plant life that had taken root among the ruins.  Naturalists identified 337 species of flora in detailed catalogs.

* Lions weren't the only animals that fought in the Colosseum - ostriches were popular too.  Colosseum entertainment often centered around ancient Roman animals, including the wild animals discovered as the Empire expanded.  There is evidence that elephants were trained as circus acts, giraffes used in marches, and crocodiles put in shows.  One of the favorite animals was the ostrich.  These exotic birds were used by Emperors to draw their chariots, kept in imperial aviaries, and given as presents to banquet guests.  Ostriches were also used in fights and gladiator displays at the Colosseum.

* Ridley Scott, director of the "Gladiator" film, thought that the real Roman Colosseum was too small to film the movie, so he built a bigger, glitzier Colosseum in Malta.


Take a virtual tour of Ancient Rome through Google Earth!

Visit the Museum
The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is located in the Yucca Valley Community Center Complex at 57116 Twentynine Palms Highway.  The museum is open Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Admission is free; donations support the educational mission of the museum.  The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is operated by the Town of Yucca Valley.  

For more information on our programs and events contact the Hi-Desert Nature Museum at (760) 369-7212 or see our web site at 


To view a full schedule of Yucca Valley events, sports programs, and recreation classes visit the Town's web site at