Museum of Western Colorado celebrates 50 years in Grand Junction |

Museum of Western Colorado celebrates 50 years in Grand Junction

Brittany Markert
Museum of Western Colorado is celebrating 50 years in the Grand Valley. It has preserved Grand Valley spanning Native Americans to uranium mines.
Caitlin Row / | Free Press


WHAT: Museum of Western Colorado Annual Meeting & Heritage Awards

WHEN: Saturday, March 3, 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: Colorado Mesa University’s University Center Ballroom

COST: $10 donation



WHAT: Museum of Western Colorado’s Museum of the West

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday

WHERE: 462 Ute Ave., Grand Junction

COST: $6.50 for adults, $5.50 for seniors, $3.75 for children and $20 for family groups.


How does a museum stay open for 50 years? Peter Booth, Museum of Western Colorado’s executive director, believes it takes a lot of sacrifice, dedication, and volunteer support.

“It is a commitment to the vision of being a museum that is fulfilling its mission and preserving local heritage,” Booth said. “It tells us who we are, and why things are the way they are.”

Throughout the years, the museum has run with help from hundreds of volunteers, including Kay Fredette. She has been assisting at the museum for almost 29 years.

Fredette started volunteering as a way to relieve “empty nest syndrome,” but has since fell in love with the paleontology side of the museum, she said. “It’s a fun and challenging way to get out and get dirty in the desert.

“This area has a rich history in a lot of different areas including mining and agriculture,” she added. “And we are always finding newer and bigger things. There has been a long community involvement sharing artifacts to show their part of history.”

To honor volunteers and celebrate success, Museum of Western Colorado will host Heritage Awards — set for Saturday, March 3, at 5:30 p.m. The event is scheduled for Colorado Mesa University’s Ballroom, located in the University Center (1100 North Ave., Grand Junction). It is open to the public with a suggested $10 donation. Reservations are required by calling 970-242-0971, ext. 201.

The event will also honor longtime volunteers and advocates of western Colorado history.


The Museum of Western Colorado opened in 1965 and started as museum of arts and science. The building was originally an old pharmacy distribution warehouse (which dates back to the 1930s).

According to Booth, the museum started as a historical society that displayed artifacts from Grand Valley’s early history.

“The prehistoric heritage of western Colorado and the paleo displays also started very early on,” he explained.

Since then, Museum of the West, which is the flagship structure on Ute Avenue, features exhibits spanning early Native Americans to the uranium boom. Dinosaur Journey (550 Jurassic Court, Fruita) and Cross Orchards Historic Site (3073 F Road, Grand Junction) are also operated by Museum of Western Colorado.

The museum is currently going through a strategic-planning process to plan its road map to the future. It recently received feedback from a community outreach study, in which many respondents said they valued the museum for its exhibits and preservation. Expansion projects are also in the works, including Dinosaur Journey Museum and Cross Orchards Historic Farm.

Museum of Western Colorado additionally has a Heritage Rendezvous exhibit, which features how residents on the Western Slope used to live. It will run through May 3.

“If you don’t have history, you are doomed to repeat it,” Fredette said. “It teaches us what mankind has learned and failed to learn from the past; hopefully we can learn from mistakes we might make and progress from that.”

Museum of Western Colorado is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission costs $6.50 for adults, $5.50 for seniors, $3.75 for children and $20 for family groups.

For more information, visit

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