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'This place is special:' Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum director reacts to being a national medal finalist

They were one of thirty museums nationwide to be named a finalist for the 2024 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.
desert museum
Posted at 11:44 AM, Apr 05, 2024

West Tucson’s Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is now being recognized for their decades of work.

“This place is just incredibly special," Executive Director Craig Ivanyi said.

They’re now also one of 30 finalists for the 2024 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

The museum west of Gates Pass is more of an immersion experience, with over two and a half miles of trails and multiple different museums.

“We’re not trying to pretend we are somewhere else, we’re actually immersed in the region we represent," Ivanyi said.

The Sonoran Desert covers over 100 thousand square miles of land, two countries, as well as seas and oceans.

“People think the Sonoran Desert is in between Tucson and Phoenix, but they don’t realize a bulk of it is actually south of the border," Ivanyi said.

The museum opened in 1952 and now sees around 400,000 visitors a year.

This is the first time it has been a finalist for this award.

“To be a finalist on a national basis, for a place people don’t always think of because we’re on the other side of a mountain in Tucson, it’s just an amazing thing to be a part of," Ivanyi said.

The national medal winners will be announced in late May.

Adam Klepp is a reporter for KGUN 9. At his previous station in Yuma, Adam focused on a range of local issues including the border, water rights and healthcare. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan, and attended both Loyola University Chicago and Syracuse University. Share your story ideas and important issues with Adam by emailing or by connecting on Twitter.