Connecting What Was to What’s Next

History ColoradoEver wish you had a time machine so you could see what life was really like in the past?

The History Colorado Center in Denver has such a machine, and you might say that Crow Canyon helped program it. The machine looks like something from a Jules Verne novel, and while it won’t deliver you to another time, you’ll feel like you’ve made the trip.

The time machine can be steered around a giant map in the floor of the four-story Anschutz Hamilton Hall. When it reaches a regional “hot spot,” video screens come to life, drawing visitors into carefully researched and thoughtfully presented accounts about the history of Colorado.

The steampunk trappings draw visitors into carefully researched and thoughtfully presented accounts of history, but the time machine is just the beginning. "Living West," one of the museum’s permanent exhibits, explores Coloradans’ relationships with the harsh climate and terrain of the West, from ancestral Pueblo Indian Life at Mesa Verde, to the Dust Bowl, to modern life in the Rockies.

History Colorado PR0409Crow Canyon staff members, Pueblo Indian scholars, and participants in the Village Ecodynamics Project collaborated with History Colorado and specialists from the Science Museum of Minnesota to create three elements for Mesa Verde component of the exhibit, which includes baskets, pottery, and other artifacts from the History Colorado’s collections.

A film crew visited Crow Canyon in May 2013 to interview Pueblo Indian scholars Tessie Naranjo, Augustine Calvert, Leigh Kuwanwisiwma , and Peter Pino, as well as Crow Canyon laboratory manager Kari Schleher, Mark Varien, who is now executive vice president of the Crow Canyon Research Institute, and former Crow Canyon research director Scott Ortman, now on the faculty of the University of Colorado–Boulder.

Colorado Public Radio broadcast an interview with Varien, with a brief clip by Naranjo, about the Mesa Verde region and the exhibit. You can hear the interview here.

According to History Colorado, the time machine tells more than two dozen historic and contemporary stories combining film, music, and still images. Featured topics include the preservation of Mesa Verde, the Leadville Ice Palace, the Ludlow Massacre, Uravan uranium mining, Shep the Tollbooth Dog, mountain man Mariano Medina, and the infamous Colorado-Texas tomato wars of the 1980s. South Park’s Eric Cartman makes a guest cameo.

Photos courtesy of History Colorado.

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