A Colorado Museum Pays Tribute to Creative Pioneers
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The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum (CSPM) is located in a genuinely historical area set within the streets of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The building, itself, is one that calls out to visitors; a granite structure with a domed clock tower that once housed the El Paso County Courthouse, the unique architecture is a sight not easily forgotten.
Located within Alamo Square Park, this standalone museum without a rival is also the home base for the Starsmore Center for Local History, a manuscript collection, and a research facility. With a collection of fine arts, artifacts, and archival collections that document the Pikes Peak region, the one-of-a-kind building also holds a well-deserved spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
Committed to building and maintaining a lasting connection to the Pikes Peak region by preserving and sharing its rich cultural history, the CSPM accomplishes this vast mission by providing innovative exhibits, offering educational outreach and programming, and by preserving its object and archival collections. It is also well-known for making its collections available to researchers, scholars, students, and authors from around the country.
Being one of the oldest institutions of its kind in Colorado, the Starsmore Center for Local History (SCLH) that CSPM covers have Pikes Peak region materials that, quite literally, blow the mind. Over 80,000 photographs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, maps, blueprints, ephemera, and oral histories; it also boasts five nationally-significant manuscript collections that annually receive a thousand or more research requests. The object collection of over 45,000 items also includes decorative arts and furnishings from homes in the Pikes Peak region, fine art from local artists representing the American West, textiles that include quilts, coverlets, garments, and military uniforms, the largest public collection of Van Briggle Art Pottery, and archaeological collections. Nearly every field of the humanities is represented in some way. Whether that be through poetry, literature, and the fine arts or historical geography, the social sciences, and history, it is one locale that would make even Indiana Jones want to explore every recess the museum offers.
In addition to the massive itinerary of things to see, people to meet, and information to learn, the museum also has a history of hosting various events that people come from all over the country to attend. Cultural celebrations, music concerts, and Chautauqua performances have been featured in the exquisitely restored Division I Courtroom on the upper floor. In contrast, Food Truck Tuesdays have delighted thousands who show up to participate in the surrounding park. A thriving program calendar provides tours, speakers, school field trips, and other special programs. And with a dedicated crew of over 100 volunteers, guided tours are provided to more than 10,000 of the 100,000 people who visit the museum annually.
Right now, as you read, the awesome exhibits running and about to be opened are incredible. From a look at women’s suffrage to the Evidence Exhibit: Finding the Facts about General William Jackson Palmer, there is something for everyone to enjoy. When it comes to “evidence,” newly unearthed archaeological evidence, along with extensive archival materials, allow visitors to test assumptions, challenge myths and gain new insights into the legendary Palmer and his family.
Yet another to explore is the Cultural Crossroads: Highlights from the Collection exhibit.
For millennia, the vast stretch of land between the Platte and Arkansas Rivers and east of the Rocky Mountains has been a Cultural Crossroads. American Indians are a part of living cultures, and Native people in Colorado are actively preserving their languages, traditions, and history. This exhibit features illuminating examples of American Indian beadwork, clothing, baskets, and other materials that come together and represent over 30 nations.
For literary buffs, A Home of One’s Own: The Life of Helen Hunt Jackson explores this noteworthy writer of the 19th century. As the author of poetry, children’s stories, historical pieces, a novel, and more, she earned widespread public acclaim. Her most well-known years as a writer came after moving to Colorado Springs in 1873, which was only two years after the town was founded. She completed her most famous works, Ramona, and a nonfiction work titled, A Century of Dishonor in that time. This collection combines an interactive digital display of documents, objects, and photographs with her furnishings from the original Jackson House.
No matter which creative pursuit you wish to study, this museum focuses on the pioneers of each…lifetimes that will leave you breathless.
The museum is open from 10 to 5, Tuesday through Saturday. The CSPM strongly encourages all visitors to reserve free tickets online. Because of the pandemic, the museum is staggering opening hours from 10 to Noon, Noon to 3; and 3 to 5. For every time block, 50 visitors are allowed in at a time. Twenty tickets will be available for walk-ins during each time block and given on a first-come/first-serve basis. Face coverings are required for all staff and visitors. If visitors arrive without a face covering, the CSPM will have some available on hand to pass out.
All visitors will be asked to provide contact information to fulfill a contact tracing requirement per the El Paso County Health Department. This can be accomplished upon arrival or through the online reservation system. Staff will administer temperature checks and safety questions upon arrival for all visitors. Reserve your free tickets and learn more at www.cspm.org today.
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