Friday, January 28, 2011

A beautiful day to move a piano or two

Three big guys from Keyboard Carriers arrived at 1:30 on Thursday to prep our J. M. Pelton square grand piano for a move from the Astor House Museum to the Golden History Center. Dating from 1860-1880, this 1600-pound mass of cherry and gumwood was one of the first major donations to the Astor House Museum in 1972, where it has remained ever since.  
Back when Mr. and Mrs. Keith Simmons from Littleton donated the piano, Mrs. Simmons recalled that Colorado Territorial Governor John Evans bought the instrument around 1859 for his youngest daughter. She died later at age 15. The piano was later sold, only to reside in Central City until 1910, when it was purchased by Mrs. Simmon’s family.
This was back before Golden had a train, so the story goes that he had the piano shipped to Cheyenne by train, and then transported by wagon to Golden. Fortunately, the four piano legs are removable, allowing the cabinet to fit snugly into a wagon. Come full circle back to today–this is basically what we did. The legs were removed and it was carted this time in a truck by professional movers.

Padding the piano at the Astor House Museum.

Removing one of the legs at the Astor House Museum.

Putting legs back on at the Golden History Center.

This is only the beginning of this story. The piano is about to undergo a complete restoration of all of its musical components. It will have new strings, hammers, and more, thanks to the generous support of several longtime museum supporters. All of the work will be completed under the talented eye of Dan Holstein, owner of Dan’s Piano Service, who will sponsor our upcoming music exhibit showcasing the Pelton grand. When the exhibit is done, you might even get a chance to hear it make beautiful music. This yet-to-be-named exhibit will open June 3, 2011.  Stay tuned, because next week Dan will be working in the Golden History Center’s gallery when he plans to began removing the strings.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Offsite collections in better, more secure location

From big-wheeled baby buggies to a hand-grenade-style glass fire extinguisher, the offsite collection storage for Golden History Museums has an amazing variety of Golden-centric artifacts. The collection has been growing for decades and numbers over 15,000 items—so many that they can’t all be stored at our three museums near downtown Golden.

Shelves have been assembled by volunteers, and items were boxed, labeled and cataloged in recent months.

Yesterday the whole staff, along with one lucky volunteer, donned special gloves (so as not to damage the artifacts we handled) and moved the last few hundred of the items, large and small, to a new and more secure storage room where everything is consolidated. With smaller items neatly organized on shelving units and larger items carefully placed anywhere space could be found, the transfer of artifacts is now nearly complete.

We even have a repurposed (from a federal government office) flat-file storage unit that will ensure proper care for maps and other large paper artifacts.

See the before-and-after images below to get a sense of the room’s scope.



Monday, January 10, 2011

Hands on History Summer Camp

When it comes to the public programs we provide at Golden History Museums it’s difficult to get a true handle on what parents and families really need and believe it or not, the best way to get at the needs of local families is to ask them. Last December I met with three Golden moms who were able to volunteer some time to talk about possible changes to the Hands-on History Summer Camp (HoH) structure and how it would affect parents.

The meeting went great and all three ladies had really helpful suggestions that ranged from session themes to making sure parents know their kids won’t be in the sun all day. With their suggestions I really think we’ll be able to make HoH 2011 work for a lot of families. This summer we’re dividing the kids by age, 6-8 and 9-11, and offering half-day or full-day sessions. And even better, in addition to our pioneer session, we’ve got 3 new session themes for kids to explore new time periods and topics.


Having involvement from community members is invaluable and I’m really thankful to all three women for taking the time to talk with me about this and I think we made HoH more convenient for parents and even more fun for kids.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Behind the Scenes: Golden in Focus Photo Show

Golden in Focus: Historic Photo Show & Sale opened on Dec. 3 at the Golden History Center at 923 10th St., in conjunction with Golden’s Candlelight Walk. 

Visitors to the Golden History Center take in the exhibit on Dec. 3.

© Peter Skiba,

A collection of 36 images is still on display, featuring such diverse topics as Buffalo Bill, Coors Brewery employees, and Golden street scenes.

© Golden History Museums, City of Golden Collection

To create Golden in Focus, professional photographer Scott Dressel-Martin and museum curator Mark Dodge pored over the City of Golden collection to choose the best images for the exhibit. Painstakingly scanned and retouched when necessary, the images were reproduced and transferred to display boards, and then arranged in the Golden History Center’s gallery space.

Mark and Scott work to select the right images.

Elizabeth Strnad won the image of the Colorado & Southern train yard in Golden.

© Golden History Museums, City of Golden Collection

© Golden History Museums, City of Golden Collection
Reproductions are still for sale starting at $59.99. Stop in or call 303.278.3557 for details.