We’ve not exactly been experiencing a financial climate that encourages the opening of new city museums, but luckily the History Colorado Center was forced to move to a new building. Taking advantage of the move, the museum completely re-thought it’s vision, audience testing all of their exhibits and pulling out all the stop necessary to make the museum as fun as possible. I recently got a chance to explore this soon-to-open museum, and I can’t wait to come back on April 28th when it’s completed and ready for the public.
This will be one cool museum. A coal mining simulation, a 4D car-ride, games to play, and even a SouthPark reference help museum patrons better understand Colorado stories and history. On the main floor of History Colorado there is a huge map of the state, made interactive by two “time machines” that can be pushed around the floor. Depending on their locations, the machines fire up mini-movies (3-5 minutes) about the spot they’ve been situated on. I learned about Leadville’s ice palace, how the Olympics never happened in Denver, and about the first African American woman to practice medicine in Colorado.
The second floor has an exhibit on ‘Colorado for Locals,’ scheduled to be very strange - featuring situations like ‘what if the big blue bear and the big blue horse got in a fight?’ (the azure animals are well known pieces of public art here). The other exhibit opening upstairs has spaces for several different groups that showcase the concept of community in Colorado. These include Steamboat Springs (home to more Olympic athletes than anywhere in the nation), a Japanese internment camp, Lincoln Hills (the go-to African American mountain retreat), and the site of the Ludlow Massacre. Museum curators have successfully gotten away from the “plaques on the wall,” method of presenting information. In the Steamboat Springs exhibit you can participate in a simulated ski jump. Step into the Ludlow Massacre exhibit and you are surrounding by the sounds of battle before conflicting primary source quotes appear on the walls, still arguing about what happened here.
The History Colorado Center opens on April 28th. It will be open Monday – Saturday from 10am – 5pm, Sundays from noon until 5. Only a few exhibits (the ones mentioned above) will open in April. Over the next five years more wings will open. Next up will be an exhibit focused on people and their environment, particularly the importance of water in the region. The museum will also have a temporary exhibit space so traveling collections will be able to enjoy a stint at History Colorado. The museum will be charging $10 for adults, with discounts for seniors, students, children, and groups of 10 or more. The museum just behind Denver Art Museum at 1200 Broadway. You can park in the parking garage on 12th. There is also plenty of metered street parking.