Traveling to another place and time is a history buff’s dream. Now Coloradoans and visitors to the state can simulate this experience by visiting the new History Colorado Center located in downtown Denver.
After attending a University of Colorado Alumni luncheon at the center, I had the good fortune to stroll through the museum. I highly recommend a visit, especially if you have kids in tow.
In the main atrium, patrons are immediately greeted by a giant floor map of Colorado. This topographical map depicts the state from an altitude of 400 miles in space. That is only part of the draw to the foyer. What is even more alluring is the “time machine video kiosk” that can be maneuvered to different points on the floor that correspond to specific places in Colorado. Once at a destination, the kiosk can be programmed to take visitors back in time as they listen to one of dozens of stories. How could a child not become fascinated with Colorado history after participating in this engaging exhibit?
Colorado is known for its breathtaking Rockies. How many people, even residents of Colorado, know much about the eastern plains? Other than driving through the state, few head east. Now more people can learn of the difficulties associated with living in the 1920s on the prairie by visiting the first floor exhibit called “Destination Colorado.” Through the use of interactive exhibits with videos and authentic donated artifacts, visitors use all of their senses by touring a replica of Keota, a town that was along the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy rail line. Energetic children will enjoy exploring all of the nooks and crannies and sliding down the slide.
On the second floor, 8 distinct aspects of Colorado history can be explored.
- Convergence- Bent Fort This exhibit is a mini version of the famous trading post that was located on the Santa Fe Trail. A computer game allows children and adults to interact with historical figures from the Wild West.
- Borderlands- Southern Colorado Oops. Somehow I missed seeing this exhibit. According to the directory, it shows various leaders who governed the region- a Spanish governor, a Comanche chief, a Mexican governor, a Colorado governor, and a state judge.
- Mountain Haven- Lincoln Hills African Americans and other groups were discriminated against in the 1920s. As a result, minority groups opened their own resorts. The largest resort that catered to African Americans was established at Lincoln Hills in the Colorado Rockies. Adjacent to this exhibit is a small display that focuses on the Ku Klux Klan in the first half of the 20th century.
- Top of the World- Silverton There are several museums throughout Colorado that focus on the mining industry. This mini version reaffirms the hazards associated with mining and the brutal life that the miners had to endure.
- Collision- Sand Creek Massacre A bleak and disappointing point in Colorado history is revealed in the balanced portrayal of the Sand Creek Massacre.
- Resilience- The Utes The heritage of the Utes, the original inhabitants of Colorado, lives on in this exhibit.
- Confined Citizens- The Amache-Granada Relocation Center Most people know about the Japanese internment camps that were established after Pearl Harbor. The Amache exhibit reveals the limitations that were imposed on the people who were sent to this Colorado internment camp.
- Jumping for Joy-Steamboat Springs Winter sports are the bread and butter of the state’s tourist industry. Few realize that Carl Howelsen brought ski jumping to Steamboat Springs almost 100 years ago. Fun aspects of skiing history are included along with a simulated ski jump experience that made most participants chuckle.
Much can be gained from coming to this museum, particularly the honest and thought provoking approach that was taken in depicting controversial topics such as depriving Native Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans of their rights.
Send me a comment and let me know which was your favorite part of the museum.
She is a certified Colorado teacher who lived as an expat in India. Sandra’s book chronicles her international teaching adventure.
The memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, and the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards.