The Museum of Boulder

The Jewel in the Crown of Boulder’s History and Culture

Museum of Boulder Photo by Jen Lomeli

Fewer than four years ago, the Museum of Boulder at Tebo Center opened its new doors in the historic Masonic Lodge building at the corner of Pine and Broadway.  In that short period of time, the Museum has achieved its strategic goal of becoming a diverse, vibrant, and engaging community center that explores Boulder’s unique heritage, celebrates its current excitement, and challenges visitors to envision a future full of change, promise, and the potential for stronger bonds among every facet of our wonderful city. Those four years have brought exciting exhibits, dynamic programming, and unimaginable obstacles to both the Museum and the community as a whole:  a pandemic, a tragic mass shooting, and a devastating wildfire.  Through creative problem-solving, grit, and tenacity the institution has not only survived, but looks forward to celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2024.
Lori Preston, the Museum’s Executive Director, sums up her four years on the job like this:
“On any given day, you can see what an integral part of Boulder’s culture we are. You might
find a 3rd-grade class engrossed in our National award-winning permanent exhibit, the Boulder
Experience Gallery taking notes on emergency mountain rescue, a high school student
demonstrating 3-D printing to younger learners in the Google Garage, or toddlers exploring
textures and sound in the Playzeum.  All of this is happening while a docent guides visitors
through a community-curated exhibit of local Latino history and culture created by Latino
residents. The rooftop views are some of Boulder's very best. Every day is a surprising, energizing mix of people and events.”
One recent highlight in the last four years of exciting exhibits is currently running through September 3, “Beer Here!—Brewing the New West”.  It exemplifies the Museum’s focus on combining history, culture, and the unique Boulder vibe.  Kathy and Brian Spear, Mapleton Hill residents, sponsored the exhibit which had previously been staged at Colorado History, immediately prior to the pandemic.  The Spears brought it to Boulder for the run it deserved, particularly given Boulder’s home and craft brewing culture.  Kathy, long-time Museum member and former Board chair, as the exhibit opened said, “It makes us so proud to see how the Museum has grown and fulfilled its mission to be an innovative community cultural center.  We do serious.  We do culture.  We do arts.  We do fun.  And this exhibit is all of those.”
September 29, 2023, will mark the opening of a new major exhibit, “Proclaiming Colorado’s Black History”, a second important community-curated exhibit.  It will tell the stories, challenges, and accomplishments of Colorado’s Black settlers, current residents, and Afro-futurists.  This exhibit, funded only in part by a prestigious federal grant from the  Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, has been made possible by a vibrant, diverse group of educators,  historians, and activists who are mining the rich experience of Colorado’s Black community.  Adrian Miller, Co-Project Director and Lead Curator, describes the exhibit’s groundbreaking effort: “I’m thrilled with so many things about the forthcoming ‘Proclaiming Colorado’s Black History’ exhibit, particularly with the way we’ve involved the community.  In order to tell this fascinating history, we’re gathering oral interviews, commissioning artists and musicians, researching archives, and asking for guidance from everyone—young people to our elders.” 
A true celebration of the 80th anniversary and many years to come will require that the Museum’s financial sustainability be strengthened for the long term.  While the citizens of Boulder endorsed an initiative in 2014 that allowed sales tax revenue to fund a portion of the purchase of the Masonic Lodge and its renovation, the Museum is not owned by the City and receives only modest support for its on-going operations.  The Museum is, in addition, the owner and principle repository of Boulder’s 45,000 historical artifacts and more than 900,000 historic documents and photographs.  This invaluable collection is housed at a separate warehouse facility in the Gunbarrel neighborhood in east Boulder and the Carnegie Museum next door.   Cynthia Schmidt, Chair of the Museum’s Board of Directors, observes, “This is a critical time in the Museum’s history.  We have launched a major fundraising campaign to preserve this jewel of a museum and to lift it into the future.  It helps us see the value of this incredible community where we live, work, learn, and play.  This museum helps us understand where we have come from and where we want to go. We need the support of the entire community—and beyond the city limits—to help assure the Museum’s continued service to Boulder and all of Colorado.”

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The Museum is located at 2205 Pine Street in downtown Boulder and is open every day of the week except Tuesday.