Press Release

Damage, Donations, and Dialogue as Unrest Confronts Colorado’s Largest History Museum

History Colorado received more than 250 donations last weekend — and picked up some artifacts as well.

DENVER, COLO. (June 2, 2020) — History Colorado shared a public statement on Monday after a weekend of unrest that included damage to its largest facility.

PRESS CONTACT
John Eding, Manager of Communications and PR
303-594-2133 | john.eding@state.co.us

The statement reads, in part, “The past tells us that social unrest can create productive change, that the expansion of rights and justice are fought for and never given, and that many good people have helped America and Colorado work toward greater expressions of liberty.” It also published “We Can’t Afford to Fail This Time”, an essay by Dr. Nicki Gonzales, a member of its State Historian’s Council who is Associate Professor of History and Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion at Regis University.

The History Colorado Center, a Smithsonian-affiliate museum in the heart of Denver’s downtown Golden Triangle Creative District, was damaged throughout the weekend of May 29 during mass gatherings after dark. An alarm triggered by a small group of trespassers drew a rapid response from the Denver Fire Department and Denver Police on Saturday, May 30. The weekend’s damage was limited to exterior elements of the building. Artifacts inside remain secured behind locked doors. There were no reported injuries or thefts.

While working to clean up, staff members also collected projectiles, cans of spray paint, and a placard reading “Love is the only answer” that was left in the street outside, in addition to taking documentary photographs. These items will be reviewed by a curatorial team adding materials to History Colorado’s collection. Their effort, a public engagement initiative known as History in the Making, is seeking submissions from the public via historycolorado.org/covid-19.

After sharing images on social media of broken windows, spray-painted exteriors, and a rapid cleanup response from staff and volunteers on May 30, History Colorado was deeply humbled to receive more than 250 donations via Facebook on Saturday and Sunday. History Colorado expresses profound appreciation and a debt of gratitude to all who are lending their support. Donations can be provided to History Colorado via h-co.org/donate.

“I donated because despite broken glass, I know their teams will teach this history some day,” said one donor on Facebook. “They will make sure that history is told honestly and that their visitors will be able to learn something from this.”

Normally open to the public more than 360 days a year, the History Colorado Center houses four floors of historical exhibits, the Stephen H. Hart Research Center, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and the State Historical Fund, which is the nation’s largest preservation program of its kind. Several of the artifacts and exhibits on display interpret periods of civil unrest not unlike the events of this past weekend. History Colorado serves more than 75,000 students in Colorado each year.

About History Colorado
Inclusive, values-driven, and intentional, History Colorado has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with an agile reorganization following the temporary public closure of its eight museums. Its blitz has created new educational channels for adults and youth (including virtual field trips that served more than 5,000 students in May), full-length episodes of its podcasts, a series of Archaeology & Preservation webinars, a major volunteer project, a weekly digest with over 20,000 subscribers, and one of the nation’s most comprehensive collecting initiatives: a partnership with dozens of schools, communities, and more than 40 newsrooms called History in the Making.

While working from home, its State Historical Fund staff distributed more than $1 million in grant dollars to community projects across the state between March 20 and April 20, and continued its grant funding on schedule. Its El Pueblo History Museum collected donated supplies for community elders in collaboration with local organizations. The Fort Garland Museum and Cultural Center is a Community Access Site for San Luis Valley college students who need digital connection to attend online classes. Its curatorial and archaeology teams have donated masks and gloves for the medical effort.

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 and sharing the places, stories, and material culture of Colorado through educational programs, historic preservation grants, collecting, outreach to Colorado communities, the History Colorado Center and Stephen H. Hart Research Center in Denver, and nine other museums and historic attractions statewide. History Colorado is one of only six Smithsonian Affiliates in Colorado. Visit HistoryColorado.org, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information.