Living West Primary Image

Core Exhibition

Living West

Fierce Yet Fragile

Colorado’s environment has shaped human history. At the same time, people’s choices have shaped the land.

Journey into the deep relationships between Colorado's people and its land through three stories: life at Mesa Verde 800 years ago, the 1930s Dust Bowl on the southeastern plains, and today’s Rocky Mountains.

See History Colorado’s renowned collections of ceramics, basketry, and other archaeological finds from Mesa Verde. Tribal representatives from the Santa Clara, Zia, Acoma, and Zuni pueblos and the Hopi Tribe helped select nearly 200 artifacts to illuminate the lives of ancestral Pueblo people.

Experience the epic “Black Sunday” of the 1930s in an immersive Dust Bowl theater. Decide who gets (and doesn’t get) Colorado’s most precious resource—water—with a water diversion project you operate yourself. And, measure your own water “footprint.” We developed these and other one-of-a-kind Living West interactives in partnership with the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Take a 4 1/2 minute trip from Denver to Breckenridge with Susie Wargin. See for yourself the impact and implications of pine beetles, wildfire, increasing wildlife interactions, and alpine snowpack on the mountains Coloradans love. And discover why we can only make Colorado our home today if we know how to keep our mountain ecosystems healthy for tomorrow.

Eastern Slope Water display with cranks and turning wheel.
Presentation board with sticky notes about An Uncertain Future
Mesa Verde exhibit panel about tree rings.
Pottery display from Mesa Verde.
Dust Bowl - Black Sunday Theater exhibit installation
Grasshoppers and drought display. Clothes hang from a clothesline covered in locusts.

Living West explores the living dynamics between the people of Colorado and their state’s extraordinary environment.