Hall of History Dioramas


When she arrived at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, inaugural curator Orpha Baker organized volunteers for a variety of projects. One of them, coordinated with the help of Director Harry Needham, was the construction of several dioramas, a favorite of museums everywhere as tools for interpretation. The dioramas proved to be a big hit, so much so that when the new Museum building was constructed in the early 1970s, a special room was set aside for them, the Roy P. Coxwell Hall of History.

Created by volunteers and professional artists alike, notably George Fuller and Jim Bansner, the Museum’s dioramas depict important episodes and themes in the history of Wickenburg and its region. One, for instance, shows the daily life of the Hohokam farmers who once worked the fertile soil along the Hassayampa River, a subject also explored in the lobby mural. Other dioramas depict working conditions in area mines, ranch life and its dude-ranch variant, the arrival of the railroad, the building of the first paved highway from Wickenburg to Phoenix, and the glider-training program of the U. S. Army Air Corps during World War II. A favorite of visitors is the bird’s-eye view of the town of Wickenburg, with its faithful renderings of landmarks such as the railroad station, the water tower, and, of course, the Brayton Commercial Company that would become the Desert Caballeros Western Museum half a century ago.