Building Denver is the next ambitious engagement initiative of the multifaceted public-service provider that is History Colorado. Now underway with a probing exhibit of photographs and personal histories, Covid-conscious walking tours, and a podcast launching April 5, Building Denver is marching towards its major exhibition opening on May 29. Its online hub for tickets, details, and dialogue is h-co.org/building.
Building Denver is a full slate of exhibitions, public programs, partnerships, scholarship, and educational connections that create opportunities for personal reflection and community dialogue, empowering Denverites to collectively envision a healthier, more inclusive, more equitable city. It is anchored at the History Colorado Center (1200 North Broadway) by a namesake 16-month exhibit, Building Denver: Visions of the Capital City, that is surrounded by four additional exhibits for the project and a new, drop-in makerspace. The expansive and convenient museum located in the heart of Denver’s Golden Triangle Creative District, just down the street from the state capitol, centers an effort that also reaches into homes and communities. As the weather warms, the initiative explores Denver’s neighborhoods and surroundings through Covid-conscious walking tours, car caravans, and a self-guided mystery quest with local partners.
Living Denver, a four-part podcast series for this project that is produced in collaboration with House of Pod, illuminates stories of four different Denver neighborhoods through the lens of the city’s residents. Local poets created odes to their neighborhoods, inviting others to share in the joy and celebration of these special places. They are Ramon Del Castillo (North Denver), Kenya “Mahogany” Fashaw (Five Points), Josiah Lee Lopez (West Side/Lincoln Park), and Jonathon Stalls (City Park/North Park Hill). The podcast’s opening element drops Monday, April 5 via historycolorado.org/building-denver, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and everywhere podcasts are found.
“At History Colorado, we believe that public dialogue is the bridge from challenging times to promising times, and that historical context is vital to that transformation,” says Steve Turner, Executive Director & State Historic Preservation Officer.
Stoked by climate change, public-health crises, and a burning quest for more justice within our metropolis, Denver is in the midst of accelerating urban and social transformation. Its population has exploded over the last two decades, and while the city is more diverse than ever, it was also identified in a recent study to be one of the most rapidly gentrifying cities in the nation. How did we get to this point? Where are we, exactly? And where should we go from here? Participating communities, institutions, and individuals will shape answers through their partnership and interaction with History Colorado’s intriguing, accessible offerings.
EXHIBITS AT THE HISTORY COLORADO CENTER All exhibits are always included in general admission at no extra charge.
Black in Denver
March 5, 2021–March 2022
The History Colorado Center is proud to be among the host venues for Black in Denver, a portrait and interview series by Denverite Narkita Gold, who notes that the project “takes a critical look at identity, specifically at small Black communities, solitude, and the evolution of the self.” Gold’s approach includes participant observation, empathy interviews, and surveying both locals and transplants to gain a better understanding of Black life in Denver. The project’s online home is blackindenver.com.
Building Denver: Visions of the Capital City
May 29, 2021–August 31, 2022
This marquee exhibit explores the growth, urban development, and architecture of Denver from 1860 to today. Throughout 3,000 interactive square-feet, Building Denver reveals how civic leaders, designers, and residents have steadily worked to bring their own visions for Denver to life. It is built on five chronological sections that focus on different visions for the capital, including the future, and residents are encouraged to advocate for their ideas for tomorrow. In each section, the exhibition examines how design affects everyday life. History Colorado members see it first.
Building Denver: Where Corners Meet
A Collaboration with the CU Denver College of Architecture & Planning
June 11, 2021–Fall 2021
The History Colorado Center’s front porch, lobby, and beautiful Anschutz-Hamilton Hall will host creative interventions by students and architects from the University of Colorado Denver this summer. Three collaborative, investigative projects are currently in development. Work featured in the lobby will re-imagine what the neighborhood of Five Points could be today without prior racial segregation, ongoing societal discrimination, and gentrification. Creators have been examining Afrofuturism to focus their design proposals.
Five Points Memory Project
June 26, 2021–November 2021
History Colorado is collaborating with members of the Five Points community and the Black American West Museum & Heritage Center on a Museum of Memory project that showcases the human stories and collective memory of this important neighborhood. Built on narratives about living, working, and growing up in Five Points, this exhibit complements the imaginative lobby installation by partners from the University of Colorado Denver that is also on view this summer.
Brick and Soul
July 30, 2021–July 2022
This fourth-floor exhibit of more than 30 photographs by Denver photographer Armando Geneyro connects the built environment with the people who shape its meaning. A versatile creator, Geneyro specializes in events coverage and photojournalism. His passion for street photography allows him to connect to his subjects and immerse himself in different cultures.
Building Denver Tours & Treks
Through June 26, 2021
Welcome to our guided tours full of fresh air, big ideas, and tiny details. Join us for some sole searching as we take you back and lead you forward towards a Denver of tomorrow. These Covid-conscious walking treks and car caravans include a special series in June led by local historian Phil Goodstein, who offers three excursions focused on calamity and recovery in Denver’s history.
The History Colorado Center’s new makerspace welcomes all museum visitors at no extra charge. Designed for safety and fun, guests of all ages can develop an understanding of Denver’s built environment through hands-on activities in this new main-floor space. Using wood and cardboard, hammers and scissors, visitors create their own buildings that become part of an imagined, communal city.
Hands-On History Summer Camp
June 14–August 6, 2021
This summer, the History Colorado Center hosts 8 weeks of summer camp for young people ages six through 12 to learn and create together through hands-on activities that bring history to life and connect to our larger world. Different weekly themes range from topics of the deep ocean, archaeology, superheroes, and space exploration. Building Denver anchors the session that begins July 26. Hands-On History Summer Camp offers automatic tuition assistance up to 40%. Details and registration are available here.
Nourish, create, and connect through History Colorado’s newest addition to its online-only interactive offerings. These non-credit educational experiences for adults feature time and space to engage with fellow lifelong learners and our History Colorado experts. In May, “Urban Herbalism with Bridget Molloy” (Tuesdays, May 4–25) kicks off Building Denver–inspired courses. Find details for this summer’s classes at historycolorado.org/virtual-classes.
Denver Calling: The Lost Book of Astrid Lee
From the inimitable minds of well-known Denver weirdos Chris Getzan, Andrew Novick and Barry Osborne, the Building Denver mystery quest is a self-guided, socially distanced, episodic adventure. It supports local artists, musicians, small businesses, and community partners through a series of creative interventions upon historic sites—and reveals to participants teachable moments hidden in Denver’s plain sight. The quest runs in early September, with weekly clues leading to the next pursuit. Participants can start with the first week for the complete experience, or join in along the way. Details for this offering are forthcoming via historycolorado.org/building-denver.
History Colorado Speaker Series
Launching August, 2021
Upbeat, engaging, and informative, the History Colorado Center’s next speaker series follows the June 10 conclusion of our current series investigating central questions of democracy, This Is What Democracy Looks Like. Details for these digital and in-person events are forthcoming via historycolorado.org/building-denver.
A book of Building Denver-inspired essays called Is This the City We Imagined?, this anthology collects leading voices to consider where Denver goes from here. Using the history presented in the Building Denver marquee exhibition as a springboard, it offers diverse perspectives on how we can continue creating the city we want in the future. It is scheduled to be available in July 2021 at the History Colorado Center and in History Colorado’s online bookshop. Contributors include preservationist and Historic Denver Inc. executive director Annie Levinsky, National Trust for Historic Preservation senior policy director James Lindberg, architects David Pfeifer and David Tryba, Habitat for Humanity vice president María Sepúlveda, former Denver City Councilperson Elbra Wedgeworth, historian William Wei, and others.
Building Denver is made possible by generous support from Alec M. Garbini AIA, donors to the Executive Director's Innovation Fund, Bank of America, The City and County of Denver’s Community Planning and Development Department, Gates Family Foundation, Continuum Partners--Mark Falcone, and RATIO/Dennis Humphries.
ABOUT HISTORY COLORADO
History Colorado is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and a 501(c)3 non-profit that has served more than 75,000 students and 500,000 people in Colorado each year. It is a 142-year-old institution that operates Colorado’s oldest museum, nine additional museums and historic sites, a free public research center, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and the History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF), which is the nation’s largest preservation program of its kind. The SHF currently administers more than 280 grants across Colorado, of which more that 70% are allocated in rural areas.
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.