Whether we are year-round residents or summer visitors, this is the time of year to take a drive and enjoy our museums. We surely do have variety, a bakerís dozen, that are open and inviting visitors.
Try these in alphabetical order to see whether something is missing:
Archaeology. Besides collections of artifacts on permanent display in many of the museums, the Rio Grande County Museum and Cultural Center in Del Norte is featuring a special rock art exhibit during the month of June, and a special program by Ken Frye and Carin Kerstner will take place on June 16 at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served.
Art. The Luther Bean Museum in Richardson Hall at Adams State University has permanent collections by renowned regional artists, several others have special exhibits through the year, and local shops show the work of local artists and craftsmen.
Ethnology: Luther Bean Museum has some attractive cases with materials and information about various prehistoric and historic Indians. The San Luis Valley History Museum in Alamosa and the Saguache County Museum have some American Indian material and information.
Exploration. Not a museum, strictly speaking, the reconstructed Pikeís Stockade near Sanford has spacious grounds at the site of the fort built in 1807. (No, it was not destroyed by a recent wildfire.)
Hispanic culture. The Luther Bean has a fine but small display of Spanish colonial artwork, and others, such as the SLV History Museum have had special shows in the past. (San Luis Museum and Cultural Center in San Luis is temporarily closed for renovation but will have a special exhibit in August.)
Local history. Several communities have museums devoted to schools, pioneers, memorabilia, and lifestyles of their towns and areas. Some are active year-around, as are the SLV History Museum and the Rio Grande County Museum, while others are open during summer months at the Creede Historical Society Museum, Crestone Historical Museum, and the Saguache County Museum, jail, and Hazard House.
Military. The Colorado Historical Societyís Fort Garland State Museum offers a stroll around this 1800s adobe fort and opportunities to learn about its activities and personnel, including Kit Carson. Modern military history is being preserved at the Veterans History Center Museum at Colorado State Veterans Center at Monte Vista.
Mineralogy and geology. Ryan Geological Museum in Porter Hall at ASU has more than 5,000 minerals and fossils.
Mining. Creedeís Underground Mining Museum reveals the technology and manual labor whereby many local people earned their livelihoods.
Politics. Diminutive Governor Billy Adams is the big man at ASUís Luther Bean Museum.
Sports. The story of boxer Jack Dempsey can be seen at Manassa during the summer.
Transportation. In downtown Monte Vista, the Transportation of the West Museum has a rare collection of buggies, wagons, and other artifacts related to early life in the Valley.
Whatís missing? The most important movers and shakers in our region, past and/or present, are water, agriculture, and railroading, each deserving a separate museum, but one might suppose that they either never happened or were of passing interest. We need to get serious about these major topics.
The loyal staffs and volunteers do a terrific job of sharing their time and talent for research, exhibits, interpretation, old photographs, oral history, tours for school children, and a friendly presence in our communities, and we thank them. The San Luis Valley Museum Associationís website has addresses and phone numbers where one can find information about each.