Mercill Archaeology Center

The Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum is launching an exciting new initiative!

The Mercill Archaeology Center is the cornerstone of the museum’s Jackson Hole Archaeology Initiative, a series of public programs and research opportunities in the Teton and Greater Yellowstone Regions based out of its historical Coey Cabin. Offering a combination of class and field-based education programs, JHHSM involves students and volunteers in authentic research and excavations — sharing the history of Jackson Hole through tours and workshops available to schools and summer camps, as well as the general public.

Three main rooms in the new Mercill Center will feature hands-on exhibits highlighting the basics of archaeology, homesteader, fur-trade, and prehistoric life in the area.  Activities areas include a trapper and homesteader trading post, wildlife and trapping exhibit, mining and mineralogical exhibit, full size tipi, and rock wall with petroglyphs and pictographs — all of which can be explored inside and out by curious minds.

The archaeology room will have a wide array of interactive stations including an indoor mock-dig where students can learn the rudiments of archaeological excavation when the weather outside is not conducive to the real thing; microscopes for studying plant, mineral and animal remains from archaeological sites; a sifting station to sort material from real archaeological sites; and computers for research activities. The fourth room, a converted kitchen, will be designed to host the messier and smellier activities (e.g. making hide glue, horn spoons, log chinking, homestead and prehistoric meals).

During the warmer months — and as soon as we can get it fenced — the surrounding lawn will be used for outdoor activities; JHHSM plans to move its historic “Shane Cabin” onto the lawn, add a large mock excavation, more tipis, replica wickiups, and fire ring to be used for campfire activities, as well as Native and settler cuisine and crafts. Finally, the project’s directors, archaeologists Matt Stirn and Rebecca Sgouros, plan to plant an heirloom garden that has wild edibles and medicinals important to both Native Americans and homesteaders.

The Mercill Archaeology Center is the first archaeology museum of its kind in Wyoming, and one of a select few across the country. With the support of the community, we hope to create a truly unique education center. The Center is named in honor of Mark James Mercill, in tribute to his love of children and commitment to education.

Visit the museum’s Indiegogo site to read more about our plans, see photographs and learn about the fantastic perks you will receive when you donate!