Heritage Center Curator Bill Heidner describes how he plans to update six galleries at the Heritage Center between now and 2022. The center will be open sometime in May.
Heritage Center Curator Bill Heidner describes how he plans to update six galleries at the Heritage Center between now and 2022. The center will be open sometime in May. (Photo Credit: Ana Henderson) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Heritage Center could be considered the heart of Yuma Proving Ground (YPG). It the keeper of the installation’s history. The community welcomes and bids farewell to its leaders in the front lawn of the center. It’s the first stop for those looking to learn more about YPG’s important work testing equipment for the Warfighter.

Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions the Heritage Center has been closed to the public. Soon that will change.

In May, the Heritage Center will reopen and visitors will start noticing some changes.

Heritage Center Curator Bill Heidner and docent Vince Lacey have been busy working on converting the center into an unmanned heritage display. YPG’s self-guided Heritage Center will focus solely on the installation’s history.

“They will be more specific on why we test and how we test. They will be heavy on the data processing role, data collection, data reduction, and will tie that with the overall picture,” said Heidner.

Heidner’s plan is to update six galleries and create three new exhibits. The updates will start with the Desert Training Center, then the California Arizona Maneuver area at Camp Laguna, then upgrade the three Yuma Test Station galleries and move to the early YPG gallery. The galleries will be more dynamic than ever.

“It’s going to be very graphic-intensive, although we will be able to display some of the former equipment of tests.”

The duo plan to use music to set the ambiance.

“We use music from different periods. In the Commander’s office, which is a slice from 1950s we have Frank Sinatra playing in there. So we will continue that, we will upgrade some of the video equipment and other things. We are excited at how it is going to look.”

In addition to the three new exhibits by Heidner, YPG's Cultural Resources Department will have one new gallery with two exhibits: One featuring Native Americans from YPG’s consulting tribes who have served in the U.S. Army, and another featuring what the ancestral lands of YPG mean to the tribes.

A few items the visitors will not see when the center is turned into an unmanned heritage display are some artifacts due to physical security of the items. Those will be transferred to the Center of Military History.

In the past, the Heritage Center has been awarded the Trip Advisor’s “Traveler’s Top Choice,” which means they are in the top 10% percent of displays in the world that tourists go to. Heidner says guests will continue to see that standard.

“When we turn it over to the command, it’s going to be a first class quality product. Something the command will be proud of that people will still enjoy coming out to see.”