Now is our time! This dawn of a new decade is an extraordinary moment for History Colorado. Our goals for 2020 and beyond reflect an inspired, ambitious approach to our work. I am pleased to share them with you today.
As History Colorado moves boldly forward, we are focused on education, sustainability, preserving Colorado’s unique identity, and building vibrant communities in ways that serve the entire state. We intend to double our impact in Colorado by 2025. This is our moonshot. We will embrace four strategic goals to achieve it.
Build Long-Term Sustainability
Some people know us for our preservation programs, some know us for our family programs, some know us for our museums, our exhibits, our publications. Maybe you know us as the keepers of an amazing collection of artifacts, all of them capable of telling stories about Colorado’s rich past.
Wherever they fit into this rich tapestry, our staff around the state are now committed to working in tandem. As one unified History Colorado, we’ll maximize the sustainability of our programs, collections-sharing, and preservation services.
At the same time, behind the scenes we’re improving the ways we collect and evaluate data to ensure that we accurately analyze our successes, our audiences’ needs, and our reach—so that in the years ahead we’ll just keep getting better at all we do.
Invest in Rural Prosperity
Our historic preservation efforts support not just places and things, but people. In the next decade they’ll transcend economic impact to contribute greater social impact in the communities they serve.
History Colorado is poised to share our collections more broadly around the state at our ten museums and historic sites. Our Road to the Votetraveling artifact tour for the Women’s Vote Centennial is a great start to this era. And we’re sharing more online, too.
Our new Rocky Mountain Center for Preservation in Leadville will cement our status as the nation’s leader in historic preservation at the state level. History Colorado will more actively engage people, places, and communities with this expertise.
And, we’ll mobilize ever more people as they record and preserve their tangible heritage. We envision a Rural Heritage Impact Program with community liaisons statewide. Dr. Christopher R. Bowles, our brand-new Heritage Outreach and Preservation Planning Manager, will lead the charge.
Strengthen Colorado Through Education
By harnessing the power of history, civics, and humanities, we’ll enhance our programs for learners of all ages. We’ll offer Colorado’s amazing teachers easy-to-use programs and learning activities, supplemental resources, and professional development while supporting them onsite, online, and in the field.
At several of our sites, our Hands-on History program meets the needs of working families with a full weekday of safe, fun education in districts with four-day school weeks. We aim to replicate the program for many more communities. In metro Denver, we’ll expand our summer camps and urban after-school programs in partnership with school districts. Our Bridging Borders program for teenagers, after much success in Pueblo, is now entering Aurora Public Schools.
Also, History Colorado has been tapped by the Institute for Museum and Library Services as one of three institutions nationwide to spearhead the Museums for Digital Learning Initiative, a pilot project to digitize collections and make them accessible to K-12 classrooms anywhere.
Share the Diverse Stories of Colorado
History Colorado intends to be a place of belonging for all. We’ve given that aspiration a prominent new home in the History Colorado Center’s Ballantine Gallery, where new voices and perspectives will thrive—starting with the A Legacy of Healing exhibit. Meanwhile, our Museum of Memory initiative, co-authored with communities, will reach out across rural Colorado to gather and share our citizens’ most relevant contemporary stories.
Working with partners like the Buell Foundation, Gill Foundation, and the Latino Leadership Institute, we’ve been adding new curators to our staff. Over the coming years they’ll be hard at work across the state—reaching beyond our traditional audiences and resources to document our state’s contemporary architecture, LGBT communities, Hispanic legacies, and more.
To share these stories we’ll develop new forms of content creation, distribution, and engagement to connect with new, more diverse audiences, and we’re already at work on a new collecting plan that ensures we’re including the voices of all.
Finally, as we near the critical time that is the fall 2020 general election, we're preparing to host a major public engagement initiative, American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith. Hosting this traveling experience from the Smithsonian—and augmenting it to tell Colorado’s story of democracy—is just one way we’re leaning into opportunities offered by current events.
These aren’t just dreams. These are the realities of a bolder History Colorado—initiatives we’ll implement to reach hundreds of thousands more Coloradans in the coming years. History Colorado is poised to maximize its statewide impact with confidence and a grandness of scope. With your generous support, we can make it all happen.
Steve W. Turner, AIA
Executive Director and State Historic Preservation Officer