Local News

Western Discovery Museum Folds (Updated)

January 19, 2011

By Michael Anthony Scerbo

When a group of wealthy investors opened Tusayan’s Western Discovery Museum, they promised jobs for the locals and a dose of western culture for the tourists. It didn’t last long.

The museum is funded by the usual suspects, Elling Halvorson, Stilo Group, and those well- heeled Italians from Gruppo Percassi. These are the out-of-state landowners seeking a development agreement with the Town of Tusayan.

Several days ago, the museum closed its doors. A sign reads closed for renovation. I called the Museum and asked when it would reopen. They’re shooting for mid-April. The person who picked up the line answered with this greeting, “Grand Canyon Wild West Experience.” This may be the operation’s new name if or when it re-opens. In fact the woman who answered the phone said technically the museum no longer exists and they hope to re-open as a different business.

John Dillon, who was the Museum Director, is no longer the Director. I spoke with him shortly after the January 19th Council meeting and he said most of the employees were let go. Clayann Cook is now in charge of the operation. I have a message out to her. Another Museum partner, Gary Martinson spoke to the Town Council on the 19th and said the plan is to change the operation and possibly serve food there. He hopes that happens in April.

It’s hard to understand why a museum that opened in July would  close so quickly. I peeked inside the door and saw a bunch of boxes along with some displays. The timing does seem odd. After the vote to incorporate and elect council members, Boss Halvorson and the gang decide to close the museum.

The big question is what happens to the folks who were working there?  How long can they hang on waiting for the place to re-open; if that happens. Some of them were living in the apartments above the museum. I have been told some former workers will have to move on as the apartments are needed.