What was Telluride like before there were people? Before the ski resort, the mines and even the mountains? The Telluride Historical Museum’s 2015/2016 exhibit, Forces of Nature: Telluride’s Prehistoric Journey, delved into the dramatic and volatile powers that built the region we know today. Visitors uncovered carnivorous Allosaurus dinosaur fossils from the late Jurassic period and discovered what life was like for these fast, muscular reptiles. Visitors dived into the Western Interior Seaway, the shallow sea that covered Colorado and extended from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean. Visitors tested out the principles of Plate Tectonics, handled real Colorado fossils, and saw the gems and minerals formed through millions of years of volcanic activity. Lastly, visitors experienced how the Ice Age and the pressure of glaciers creeping along the valley carved out Telluride and set the scene for the first humans.
Voices of Wartime: Telluride During World War II, explored the history of the Second World War through the unique lens of Telluride residents. A revealing look into how daily life changed—and did not change—during the War, the exhibit utilized the power of oral histories to capture the experiences of local residents and share them with a new generation. Surrounding the stories of Telluride locals during the War were images, artifacts, and newsreels explaining the War as a global conflict in greater depth.
In addition to artifacts in the Museum’s collection and those from local families, the
Museum used its designation as a Smithsonian affiliate to coordinate loans
from other affiliated museums, including the National World War II Museum and the
Chinese American Museum. Other community partners came together for the exhibit,
including the Telluride Daily Planet, Telluride Masons #56, Telluride Elks Lodge #692,
Telluride Rotary, and the American Legion Post 12.
Powerful Currents: Hydroelectricity in the San Juans
Powerful Currents, the Museum’s 2013 annual exhibit, explores the technological innovation behind the development of early hydroelectric projects in the San Juans. The exhibit includes artifacts from Ames Hydroelectric Generating Plant which, in 1891, achieved the first long distance commercial transmission of alternating current in the world, and the technology of early power plants like Ames and later Bridal Veil Falls. A Pelton wheel interactive, made possible by a generous donation from the Telluride Institute, will give visitors a hands-on experience of how water pressure and force is converted into electrical currents. Visitors will see this process in action with the miniature Pelton Wheel that powers a light bulb, and will be able to make their own electricity at our experiments stations.
Sight and Sound: 125 years of art and music in Telluride
Ever hear the sound of a 1903 Gem Roller Organ? Are you curious about the very first painting of the Telluride Valley? Do you want to know Audrey’s story? How is a lithograph made? Telluride is known for its music festivals and art culture, but what about the stories behind them?
Sight and Sound, Telluride Historical Museum’s 2012 annual exhibit, explores Telluride’s rich history of arts and museum, from the earliest depictions by settlers and surveyors moving across the American West through the town’s eclectic group of artists, poets, and musicians of today.
Layin’ Down the Law: Telluride Lawmen, Outlaws, and Crimes
In 1889, Butch Cassidy robbed his first bank in Telluride, lawmen were considered gunslingers, and the town had 10 saloons and no church. Miners, cowboys and rustlers all found recluse in “the town without a bellyache,” and the outlaws rode through town with guns “a blazin.’”
From the time Telluride became a town in 1878 to the current peaceful destination it is today, Telluride has had its fair share of crime, thieving outlaws, and lawmen who kept order—sometimes.