Sacred Mission Led Alberto Acosto to a 7,500-Square-Foot Storefront in Cathedral City

CATHEDRAL CITY — I arrived in the Greater Palm Springs Area in 2019 on a sacred mission. After commissioning and creating artifact and fossil exhibitions focused on prehistoric life and ancient civilizations with the tutelage of experts in the fields of paleontology, paleoanthropology, archaeology, and cultural anthropology over the past 30 years and traveling them to more than 50 museum destinations throughout the U.S. and exotic places, I was looking for a region that needed a museum of this scope and nature.

When I discovered Palm Springs’s predilection for modernism and contemporary art, I was inspired and determined to establish these former traveling exhibitions in the Coachella Valley to create museum diversity and to leave a legacy for this and future generations. Having reached retirement age, it was incumbent upon me to find a permanent home or disseminate them to well-established museums throughout the nation. I chose to keep them all under one roof in a region where residents and visitors could encounter the ancient past to enlighten the present, guiding a path toward the future.

The Museum of Ancient Wonders (MoAW), a nonprofit organization was founded to house these collections, grow them with additional acquisitions, and promote MoAW’s mission with other national traveling exhibitions. With a tight budget, a 7,500-square-foot storefront in Cathedral City was leased and began receiving 4.8 to 5-star reviews on Google, Trip Advisor, and YELP.

It is important to remember that the Palm Springs Art Museum began in the basement of the city’s library, the Children’s Museum in a former dentist’s office, and the Air Museum in an aircraft hangar near the airport confirming that popular regional museums begin under modest auspices.

MoAW is here to enhance universal curriculum development for the nearly 70,000 students who attend local and surrounding school districts, colleges, and universities with displays of important fossil discoveries that have been unearthed over the past 200 years of worldwide excavations. From every geological era, scientifically produced laboratory fossil casts representing 30 natural history museums from all over the world are displayed in geological chronological order. From specimens of 3.5 billion-year-old cyanobacteria responsible for oxygenating the atmosphere and the establishment of the ozone layer, to early vertebrate marine life, insects, and plants, through the Age of Dinosaurs, and culminating in mammals and prehistoric humans (including the famous Lucy skeleton from the National Museum of Ethiopia), PALEO: The Story of Life dramatically illustrates the Story of Evolution.

With the assistance of Joseph McCabe, MoAW’s Director of Development, 108 recently donated genuine antiquities were acquired from Heather James Fine Art, Palm Desert, with artifacts representing 12 Central African nations and 31 indigenous communities, artifacts from Asia, including Japan, China, the nations of Southeast Asia, and Mesoamerican artifacts. Along with MoAW’s own sanctioned replicas from the Department of Antiquities of the government of Egypt, a comprehensive collection of full-scale, highly detailed iconic treasures from the tomb of King Tut, Grecian vessels from the National Museums of Greece, these archaeological artifacts give students a glimpse of ancient civilizations from all over the world bringing context for how we live our lives today.

With artifact exhibition titles like BEHIND THE MASK: Ancient African Traditions, Rituals, and Mysticism, ALL UNDER HEAVEN: Earth, Heaven, and the Afterlife, TUTANKHAMUN: “Wonderful Things” Treasures From The Pharaoh’s Tomb, VESSELS OF THE GODS: Treasures From Ancient Greece, to mention a few, for residents of the Coachella Valley, MoAW offers the opportunity to visit a museum of worldwide paleontology, paleoanthropology, and ancient archaeology without ever having to leave their backyards. Museums of this scope and nature are rarely seen outside of major municipalities.

In our quest to create museum diversity for the region we are also in the process of forming the LGBTQ+ World History Museum with a large-scale immersive exhibition titled BCE to LGBTQ+: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light, chronicling 10,000 years of LGBTQ history in a global chronology, highlighting influential figures and their societal impact, fostering understanding and acceptance through shared experiences celebrating human diversity. A planning grant has been submitted to the National Endowment for the Humanities to employ experts in the field of LGBTQ studies from Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and the University of California Los Angeles, to assist in its creation.

Needless to say, we’ve outgrown our current galleries requiring us to rotate a rich inventory of exhibitions on a semi-annual basis. Currently, we are searching for larger galleries in Palm Springs wherein we can display all of MoAW’s collections without rotation requiring 15,000 to 20,000 square feet.

Now is the time to come to the aid of a museum with a rich inventory of exhibitions and to establish an unprecedented museum devoted to LGBTQ+ history. Whole regions are intellectually defined by the nature and scope of the museums they have to offer residents and visitors. By establishing museum diversity, we are in a position to raise awareness of the importance of history in our lives to better navigate the future. I, for one, and along with many others hope you will join us in this effort for this generation and the generations to come by visiting MoAW and making a financial contribution. Please visit and for further information.


Image Sources

  • PALEO Overall-02_preview.jpeg – Copy: MoAW