Museum of Heritage & Arts

A branch of the Los Lunas Public Library

Dust, Drought, & Dreams Gone Dry

Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry is a project for public, academic and special libraries about the Dust Bowl. The project features a traveling exhibition of 300 square feet and a series of programs designed to help public audiences engage in discussions about the human and ecological consequences of one of America’s most disastrous environmental experiences. The exhibit and programs feature several overlapping humanities themes: the nature of the connection between humans and nature; the many ways human beings respond to adversity; and how people came to understand and describe the experience of living in the Plains during the Dust Bowl.


The ALA Public Programs Office, the Oklahoma State University (OSU) Library, and the Mount Holyoke College (MHC) Library developed the project, drawing upon OSU’s “Women in the Dust Bowl,” online oral histories of Dust Bowl survivors, and the MHC’s Caroline Henderson papers—letters, essays, and articles by a woman who farmed throughout the Dust Bowl period. Ken Burns’s film, The Dust Bowl, is also an inspiration for the project.


Local History


As a local component, the Museum has created a companion exhibit that features the Dust Bowl in New Mexico, the Bosque Farms Project, the Depression in New Mexico, Route 66 and the local merchants on the route.


The purpose of the exhibit is to help prevent another manmade disaster. New Mexico relies on our watershed to maintain our water supply for drinking, farming, and ranching. To bring light to the importance of the watershed, we have included an exhibit on farming and ranching along the Rio Abajo that details the historic populations of sheep and cattle that impacted the environment to create the landscape we see today.


Hands-On Education


Village staff have also created an Augmented Reality Sandbox utilizing freeware that was developed by the UC Davis W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences. This exhibit allows visitors see to create topography models by shaping real sand, which is then augmented in real time by an elevation color map, topographic contour lines, and simulated water. The system teaches geographic, geologic, and hydrologic concepts such as how to read a topography map, the meaning of contour lines, watersheds, catchment areas, levees, etc.


Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor. The Los Lunas Museum of Heritage & Arts is one of twenty-five sites in the nation selected to present the exhibition. Local sponsors are the New Mexico Humanities Council, the Valencia County Historical Society and the Village of Los Lunas Public Library.


The Dust, Drought and Dreams Gone Dry will be on exhibit through February 27, 2016.

Upcoming Presentations