History Colorado’s El Pueblo History Museum named a finalist for 2019 IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Service
Medal is nation’s highest honor recognizing museums and libraries for service to their communities.
PUEBLO, Colo., Mar. 12, 2019 — History Colorado announced that its El Pueblo History Museum in Pueblo, Colo., has been named a finalist for the 2019 Institute of Museum and Library Services National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor to museums and libraries for service to their communities. For 25 years, the award has celebrated institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service and make a difference for individuals, families and communities.
El Pueblo History Museum showcases the region’s many cultural and ethnic groups through innovative exhibits. The museum property includes a re-created 1840s adobe trading post and plaza and is the archaeological excavation site of the original 1842 El Pueblo trading post. El Pueblo History Museum’s portfolio of community-centered programs was developed to meet the needs of the Pueblo community and serve as an example and inspiration for other Colorado communities that want to preserve their heritage in the face of statewide growth and change.
Pueblo is a bi-cultural city, with a population that is nearly 50 percent Latino and 50 percent white. Unlike other parts of Colorado, Pueblo struggles with a stagnant economy, low educational attainment, and access to representation for low-income residents and minorities.
El Pueblo History Museum has declared its overarching mission is to engage and uplift the community through relevant and immersive exhibits, community-based history and memory programming, and dynamic educational offerings for youth and adults. As a result, El Pueblo History Museum has redefined its role in the Pueblo community and has become an essential cultural center in the heart of this proud and historic city.
Over the past several years, El Pueblo History Museum has implemented an innovative, inclusive and community-centered approach that has exceeded its most ambitious expectations. While museums across the country struggle to attract new visitors, El Pueblo History Museum recently completed its most successful year in history, nearly doubling the number of annual visits and revenue over four years ago. The museum continues to break records for public engagement and community impact.
“All of us at History Colorado are honored that El Pueblo History Museum has placed in the finals for this prestigious award,” said Steve Turner, executive director of History Colorado. “This recognition could only have happened with dedication of the staff at El Pueblo, collaboration with the Pueblo community, and contributions of many talented people across the History Colorado family who pitched in with their hands, minds and hearts. Let this success be the spark that ignites other Colorado communities to honor and preserve their own heritage.”
El Pueblo History Museum’s programming covers three distinct areas: exhibits, neighborhood memory projects and educational programming. Those three categories are illustrated by several projects:
• Borderlands of Southern Colorado and Without Borders: Art Sín Fronterasexhibits — Borderlands illuminates the site’s geopolitical border, as well as the region’s historical and contemporary borders of cultures, ethnicities, landscapes, industries, religions and identities; while Frontera uses art to link the museum’s historical exhibit to the ancient and contemporary borderlands of southern Colorado.
• Museum of Memory — a public history initiative that works together with Pueblo residents to co-author a shared history, collaboratively reanimate the histories that have long existed, and create opportunity for the community to decide how to remember its collective past.
• Innovative educational programs, including Hands-On History, which provides safe, engaging learning opportunities for elementary school children; and the Bridging Borders Teen Girl Fellowship, a 10-week project enabling participating teens to reconnect with the stories, knowledge and practices of women who helped to build the Pueblo community.
“It is an incredible honor to be included among the finalists for the National Medal,” said Dawn DiPrince, director of El Pueblo History Museum and chief community museums officer of History Colorado. “El Pueblo History Museum is the only Colorado finalist this year. Local people have told us they feel an increased connection to the community that helps them build new connections with neighbors, reconnect with lost neighbors and friends, and deepen connections to pride and sense of belonging to the Pueblo community. We couldn’t ask for more than that.”
Summing up, ILMS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew noted, “The 30 National Medal finalists showcase the tremendous ability of libraries and museums to serve as vital community resources. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is honored to recognize these leading institutions. We congratulate them on the work they are doing across the United States.”
To see the full list of finalists and learn more about the National Medal, visit the IMLS website. National Medal winners will be announced later this spring, and representatives from the winning institutions will be honored for their extraordinary contributions at the National Medal award ceremony on June 12 in Washington, D.C.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About El Pueblo History Museum
El Pueblo History Museum is one of seven History Colorado Community Museums and a cultural center in the heart of Pueblo, Colorado. Established in 1959, El Pueblo History Museum opened with displays of artifacts from Pueblo’s past and an evocation of the historic El Pueblo trading post. With the archaeological discovery of the original trading post, in 2003 the museum was moved adjacent to the archeological site. The museum is dedicated to empowering its community by nurturing local roots, collective histories, and civic pride. Visit El Pueblo History Museum at 301 North Union, Pueblo, Colorado 81003, on the web at https://www.historycolorado.org/el-pueblo-history-museum, or call
719-583-0453 for more information.
About History Colorado
History Colorado’s mission is to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. We serve as the state’s memory, preserving the places, stories and material culture of Colorado through the History Colorado Center and statewide Community Museums, educational programs, historic preservation grants, research library, collections and outreach to Colorado communities. Visit HistoryColorado.org, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information.