Archaeology Museum Hosts First Fund-Raiser

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"My life is in ruins," boasts Bob Breen's baseball cap.

Ruins, in this case, mean the remnants of buildings of the people who populated the Rim Country nearly a thousand years ago. They fascinate him.

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The Rim Country is scattered with rock metates, where previous residents sat for hours, grinding corn.

The Museum of Rim Country Archaeology is a custodian of that ancient civilization, and Breen, as a member of the Rim Country chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society, is a part of that historical preservation effort.

"Our museum is known by people interested in archaeology as one of the best small museums in the state," Breen said.

Beginning in August, rent for the space that houses the museum will be raised to $500 a month.

Admission donations of $2.50 for adults, $2 for seniors and $1 for students do not add up to enough to keep the doors open, so the museum needs the community to help them meet their new financial obligation, Breen said.

On Thursday, July 12, the museum is opening its doors to the community from 5 to 7 p.m., in their first fund-raising effort.

Matt Guebard, a project archaeologist at the Tonto National Monument, will give the presentation "What you didn't know about Tonto" at 10 a.m. at the July 21 meeting of the Rim Country chapter of the Arizona Archaeology Society in the museum classroom.

"Come and look at the museum built for everybody," Breen said.

"We really need people to work at the museum, then we could be open more hours," he added. "That is another reason for membership in the archaeological society."

Dues are $35 a year -- $10 stays with the local chapter.

MRCA opened five years ago when the Northern Gila County Historical Society spent $28,500 renovating the Payson Womans Club building, the former site of the Payson Public Library.

The displays and sound system could, theoretically, be moved to another location, though they were designed specifically for the Payson Womans Club building, Breen said. The murals would be lost forever with a change of venue.

Ceramics, pottery, beads, arrowheads, and stone tools such as the metates and manos ancient people used for grinding corn, are among the artifacts found at the Risser Ranch Ruins and the Q Ranch that are on display at the museum.

The Rim Country Archaeology Society raised $94,000 to purchase and thereby protect the Risser ruins from development in the early 1990s.

Another exhibit features petroglyphs still in existence near Flowing Springs.

Monte McCord and Mary McMullen are writing for grants to save the museum, but that will take time.

Until then, the local archaeology society asks the community to make certain one of Main Street's tourist attractions does not face extinction.

The July 12 open house will feature museum tours, slide programs of activities, archaeological presentations, snacks and refreshments.

"My life is in ruins" caps and T-shirts will be for sale in the gift shop.

The Museum of Rim Country Archaeology is located at 510 W. Main St. in Payson.

Normal hours are noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

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