Museum Moves The Past Into The Future

Museum Moves The Past Into The Future
Becky Maxedon / 18 Jun 2024 / No Comments » Comments

By Becky Maxedon

When you think of a museum, you think toward the past.

But at the Lake Havasu Museum of History, something that looks to the future is happening.

Michael Auria is a museum volunteer, and he is in the process of digitizing materials contained within.

Lake Havasu Museum of History RiverScene Magazine Jillian Danielson

Photo albums at the Lake Havasu Museum of History sit on a shelf to be digitized. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

Auria retired to Lake Havasu City after a career as a computer engineer. Auria was born in Compton, Calif., and spent his career in Silicon Valley in Northern California.

Auria’s choice of Lake Havasu City as his retirement destination wasn’t completely random, though. His father retired to Lake Havasu nearly 40 years ago and Auria visited regularly.

“I never really visited the town and the lake. I just came to visit dad. He would do the tourist thing and show me the sites,” Auria said.

But, according to Auria, the lineage goes further back.

“There is a picture at The Chair of a couple on the lake in a wooden speed boat. They are my grandparents,” Auria said.

His grandparents belonged to a boating club in California and came out to Lake Havasu on a long weekend – that’s the picture.

His sister relocated to Lake Havasu to care for their father and Auria followed after retiring.

Auria said he likes everything about Lake Havasu. “I call it the best life-changing event of my life moving here,” he said.

“I visited the museum and looked at all the exhibits, but when you’re with someone else, you can’t really take the time to look at all the videos completely. When I got to the gift shop, I asked if they had DVDs of the videos in the exhibits,” Auria said.

They did not.

Lake Havasu Museum of History RiverScene Magazine Jillian Danielson

McCulloch memorabilia are on display at the Lake Havasu Museum of History. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

I spoke with the director at the time, and she suggested they would love to have someone to digitize the museum’s materials.

“I didn’t follow up on it right away, but then I saw an article in the paper, and it reminded me, and I contacted the new director, Jillian Usher,” Auria said.

And he’s been working at digitizing at the museum since.

Melanie Preston, President of the Lake Havasu City Historical Society said, “Digitizing our collections is a significant milestone for Lake Havasu City, ensuring that our history is captured through photographs and videos, and is preserved for future generations.

“The project highlights the dedication of our incredible volunteers. Particularly Michael, whose contributions have been invaluable.”

“Right now, my favorite video I found is marked J-2 Gyroplane – which is what McCulloch built – flying over the bridge and lake. It turns out it’s the sales promotion video McCulloch commissioned when he was selling the J-2.

Jillian Danielson RiverScene Magazine Lake Havasu

Michael McCulloch poses with the J-2 Gyroplane. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

“I’m just fascinated with it. The museum owns one and it resides at the airport. My favorite photo is the J-2 flying over the bridge during construction. It’s a newspaper clipping and not an actual photo, but it’s cool,” he said.

The museum’s administrative assistant Julie Usher said, “It’s very important to the museum to have everything here brought up to present time so everyone can access our information any way they can.”

Usher said her passion is the general history of Havasu.

“I like how it has evolved and how McCulloch developed it. Being a desert person myself, I like how he came out here and saw a piece of desert land and had a vision for new families to come. I like to see where it started and where it’s come,” Usher said.

Auria said he currently does a lot of work on the museum’s Facebook page, and also is a part of pioneer’s pages as well.

“When people post pictures of old events or something, I’ll interject a comment about when the time is right, please consider donating that to the museum,” Auria said.

Auria said he usually responds to comments or questions on the museum Facebook quickly.

Michael Auria digitizes photos at the Lake Havasu Museum of History. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

“We can do a lot on our own, but we depend on the community to help us preserve history.”

Usher said they are happy to look at anything people bring in. “We generally ask for items that are directly related to Lake Havasu. It’s also hard to house any large items, but we’ll look at anything.

The museum is located at 320 London Bridge Road. The hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free with donations encouraged.

Contact them at 928-854-3948. Visit the website at or check out the Facebook page at Lake Havasu Museum of History.

One of the displays at the Lake Havasu Museum of History. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

One of the displays at the Lake Havasu Museum of History. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

Lake Havasu London Bridge RiverScene Magazine Jillian Danielson

London Bridge bottles are just one of the many items at the Lake Havasu Museum of History. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene




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