History column: A new downtown presence for Glenwood history | PostIndependent.com

History column: A new downtown presence for Glenwood history

Bill Kight

What is a museum? Is it the building? The objects in the building or the story behind the objects?

The best definition I could find that rang true with me is “A museum is a place where the past lives.”

For me, what makes the past come alive in a museum is the story behind the objects … the artifacts.

The reason for wanting to become an archaeologist at a young age was to find out about the past.

As a teenager, finding arrowheads was fun, but that only whet my appetite for wanting to know more. Who made it? What was it used for and how old was it?

Sometimes the answers to such questions aren’t available because the object has been severed from the connection that made it authentic. It has no provenance. Its origin, source or history of ownership is missing or questionable.

The other possibility involves the realm of make-believe. Objects are made to look like the real thing so people will believe that they are real.

This is where the new satellite museum our historical society is opening to the public today enters the picture.

We have constructed a place where we hope the exhibit “Doc Holliday — Life, Legend and Lore” brings history to life. It’s a place where the mystery of history can be experienced, where the visitor decides what is believable based on what we know from our present perspective.

Sometimes we become part of the story we’re trying to understand. That can be fun or frustrating, even downright frightful, though my hair is not yet on fire.

The Glenwood Springs Historical Society started this new journey at the beginning of this year. We wanted to hear from our town. What can we do together to bring our rich history to life?

An online survey of a 1,000 people resulted in a 36 percent response, with our questions producing over 6,000 comments. The following two public meetings refined our quest.

“Do more,” was the overwhelming response. And the one thing that stood out was people wanted us to have more of a downtown presence.

The Bullock family created an opportunity to do just that. There was an empty spot in the basement of their new store on Eighth and Grand that our board of directors looked at and saw great potential. A vision started emerging.

The rest is history. Well, not quite yet.

Continuing a journey originally coined our “Vision in Action,” our board caught fire. Director Barry Dunsdon not only provided funding as the project manager; he did the heavy lifting.

As word spread about what we were doing, people started helping in more ways than we could ever have imagined and with true community spirit.

We are proud to be a part of bringing our local history to life.

This is a monthly column by the Glenwood Historical Society’s executive director.

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