National Park Service
The Tumacácori National Park Museum tells the story of the native people who originally lived in the region and of the first Europeans who came to southern Arizona.
The museum is divided into four exhibit galleries arranged under the theme of “always changing—forever the same.” The story begins by introducing the setting of the Santa Cruz River Valley presented in an organic shaped gallery representing the natural environment of the region. Native peoples describe their heritage, use of natural resources and their connection to the land. Lifecast figures and AV programs introduce the arrival of the Jesuits and the foundation of the mission.
Exhibit components were designed to minimize any negative impact to the visitor centers’ historic structure. Symbolic wall niches were created to display the original six wooden statues of saints (santos) that stood in the original church over a hundred years ago. Few dioramas are created for display in 21st Century museums, so an extra effort was made to repurpose the three original 1930s New Deal era dioramas. The dioramas were upgraded for modern visitors to incorporate a low-tech light and audio program to punctuate key scenes or elements feature in each historic diorama.