Culture and Heritage, Museums, Preview

5 Things to Know About the Boulder History Museum

An article by Gwen Gray

Tucked away between the highly trafficked Flatirons hiking trails and the buzz of the University of Colorado campus is an old, imposing, stone house that the Boulder History Museum has called home for 27 years. Inside are carefully curated relics from the museum’s collection of 45,000 artifacts, as well as rotating exhibits that have become known for weaving together Boulder’s past with its present.

Boulder History Museum

Boulder History Museum


5 Things to Know About the Boulder History Museum

  1. Their Exhibits Are Downright Cool

While Boulder’s early history is similar to other Colorado towns — Native American roots, mining and agriculture play major roles — it quickly differentiates itself with the founding of the University of Colorado; the opening of the Boulder-Colorado Sanitarium, which brought a focus on healthy living; and the Colorado Chautauqua movement, which married an appreciation for nature with a love of arts and culture.

That makes interesting fodder for history buffs. Chief executive officer, Nancy Geyer, says, “What we really try to do with our exhibits is to look at what makes Boulder the place it is today, and then we ask, ‘How can we trace the roots of that?’” To give you an idea of what that means, past exhibits have included Evolution of Activewear, BEER! Boulder’s History on Tap, Thirty Years of Rock and Roll, and Only in Boulder.

  1. Fall 2014 Is a Great Time to Go
    A popular 2012-2013 exhibit, Chief Niwot: Legend & Legacy,is returning to the Boulder History Museum on August 29 to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Colorado’s Sand Creek Massacre. The exhibit explores the Boulder area’s ties to the Arapaho chief’s little-known legacy and the tragic events at Sand Creek, were he died. The award-winning presentation evoked powerful, emotional reactions from viewers and critics last time, and this time there will be some new content, as well as an opportunities to go on a bus tour to the Sand Creek site and attend a talk given by Ben Nighthorse Campbell and David Skaggs.

    Chief Niwot Exhibit

    Chief Niwot Exhibit

Also planned for September is the 1st Anniversary Flood Pop Up Display. This temporary exhibit will be created from submissions of flood-related objects provided to the museum, as well as the people who turn out to participate. It will be held at the museum’s new location (see #5 below).

  1. The Kids’ Room Rocks

Inspired by famous Boulder educators David and Francis Hawkins, the Corden Pharma Discovery Room is a place where kids can touch, make, experiment and play. Lots of museums say they have hands-on exhibits for kids, but quite literally every inch of this room is hands-on. During Play Dates at the Museum!, on Thursdays 12-2pm, kids can dive into a pre-selected topic and those over 4 can be dropped off while parents explore the rest of the museum. Also, there is a really great playground right beside the museum that’s perfect for pre- or post-museum playtime in the fresh air.

Discovery Room

Discovery Room

  1. You Can Have Conversations with Extraordinary People

The long-running speaking series Conversations with Extraordinary People puts some of Boulder’s best and brightest in front of audiences to share personal and remarkable stories. You get to listen while you sip wine and nosh on cheese. The upcoming season starts on Sept. 24, 2014, with Mark Retzloff, a pioneer in the natural foods movement and the founder of Alfalfa’s and Horizon Organic Dairy.

  1. The Museum Is Being Reimagined — Big Time

The museum’s current location was built in 1899. It’s a delightfully creaky old place, with that warm, polished-wood smell, but space is clearly limited. The museum has purchased a new location in downtown Boulder (the Masonic Lodge building at Broadway and Pine Street), where it plans to become the Museum of Boulder. The location is more than four times the size of the current building, and that will provide room for expanded exhibition space; a greater focus on innovation, science and technology; and a dedicated children’s museum. Though the new space is already being used for select museum programming and special events, a complete move is still a few years out. Boulder voters will have a chance to pass a short-term capital tax this fall, which could provide the museum with $4 million in funding for the transformation.

If You’d Like to Go


Boulder History Museum

1206 Euclid Avenue
Boulder, CO 80302


Certain programs, such as the speaking series and the flood pop-up exhibit, take place at the new 2205 Broadway location. Check the website for details.


Tuesday–Friday, 10am-5pm
Saturday–Sunday, noon-4pm
Closed Monday


Adults: $6
Seniors: $4
Children and Students: $3

Members and Children Under 5 Years: Free


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