Ten Medal-Worthy Colorado Museums to Visit This Summer

First seen in Denver Westword

Denver is one of two finalists for the National Medal of Honor Museum, which will commemorate recipients of the highest award given for bravery in combat. In September, the museum board will decide between locating in the Mile High City or Arlington, Texas; to help that group make the right decision, we’re highlighting ten of Colorado’s most unusual, medal-worthy museums.

Koshare Indian Museum & Trading Post 
115 West 18th Street, La Junta

During the Depression, a group of Boy Scouts interested in Native American lore began performing as the Koshare Dancers. They used money from their performances to build a great round room inspired by the kivas of the Ancestral Puebloans; they used cash in their donation basket to purchase art from Taos and Santa Fe as well as Native American artifacts from around the country. In 1949, the Koshare Indian Museum opened, sharing with the public the incredible collection amassed by these Scouts. The museum is open from noon to 5 p.m. seven days a week in summer (with extended hours until 10 p.m. on Saturdays). Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students (seventeen and under).

Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum 
35901 Weld County Road 31, Eaton

Lee Maxwell has collected over 1,408 antique washers on his property in Eaton; he started the collection because he needed a hobby and didn’t golf, he explains. The museum also houses over 23,000 patents related to washing machines, files of advertisements for vintage machines, and other old household appliances. Guided tours are available at $75 for ten people, but must be scheduled.

Black American West Museum & Heritage Center 
3091 California Street

The Black American West Museum was founded in 1971 by the late Paul Stewart (seen above); today it’s housed in the home of Dr. Justina Ford, the first African-American female doctor in Colorado. Located in Five Points, the museum is dedicated to preserving and honoring the history of black pioneers in the West. Watch this video to get an idea of what’s inside, then head to the museum, which is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and students.

The May Natural History Museum 
710 Rock Creek Canyon Road, Colorado Springs

This Colorado Springs museum holds one of the world’s largest private collections of tropical bugs, making it a great place to take the kids if they like giant spiders and colorful butterflies.The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily from May to the end of September. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $6 for kids ages six to twelve, and free for children five and under. To get even more up close and personal with living bugs, you can camp outside the museum.

Center for Colorado Women’s History at Byers-Evans House 
1310 Bannock Street

The Byers-Evans House dates back to the 1880s, but has been restored to evoke the early 1900s. Part of History Colorado, last year the structure was dedicated to sharing the history of women in Colorado, the first state to allow women the right to vote. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m on Sunday; admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, and $4 for kids.

Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys 
830 Kipling Street, Lakewood

Good things come in small packages at the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys. Last year the museum had to leave the building it had called home since 1981, but it’s landed in Lakewood, where it hopes to open to the public by the end of the year. In the meantime, it will host a miniature dollhouse show September 4-8 at the Hilton DoubleTree at the Denver Tech Center.

Outlaws and Lawmen Jail Museum
136 West Bennett Avenue, Cripple Creek

Paranormal activity was recently reported at the old Teller County Jail, which held people behind bars from 1901 until 1992 and today holds a museum where you can see the cells, read old police logs and newspaper accounts of crime, and perhaps meet a few former inhabitants. “Our ghosts are not shy,” the museum promises. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week; admission is $3 for anyone twelve and up, free for those eleven and under.

Denver Zine Library 
2400 Curtis Street
Founded in 2003 by two friends who love zines, the Denver Zine Library had four different homes before finally landing at The Temple, where it displays its collection of 15,000 magazines. Browse through a few and you might be inspired to start your own! The library is open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and by appointment.

The Edward C. Rochette Money Museum 
818 North Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs

This would have been the perfect place for Cardi B to shoot her “Money” music video. Instead, you’ll catch a comprehensive history of money and the most complete U.S. gold coin collection in the country in the Harry W. Bass Gallery. In all, the museum houses 275,000 objects. The museum is open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; admission is $8 for adults, $6 for students, seniors and members of the military.

Denver Firefighters Museum 
1326 Tremont Place

Where’s the fire? While downtown Denver explodes all around it, Station No. 1, built in 1909, remains dedicated to the history of firefighters. Exhibits include artifacts, documents and photographs; this summer, there’s a special focus on firefighters on screen. The museum also hosts monthly learning experiences for $10. Summer hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day but Monday; admission is $9 for adults, $8 for students/military and seniors, $6 for firefighters and kids five to thirteen, and free for kids four and under.