Museum unveils new exhibits
After months of planning and organizing, the Museum of the West in downtown Grand Junction introduced nine new exhibits on Monday to help keep history alive in Mesa County.
New exhibits include the history of early Colorado baseball, a machine gun re-creation from the World War I and a series of Indian calendar paintings.
“It is important to keep our exhibits fresh so we can keep bringing new information to our community,” said Peter Booth, executive director. “This museum has many remnants and serves as a basis for our community, but could also help us look towards the future of our county.”
One of the more detailed exhibits features the founding of baseball in early Colorado communities in 1858. Baseball offered a diversion from fieldwork, mining and daily struggles in the early west. The first teams were organized in 1862, including the Colorado Base Ball Club; baseball was two separate words until 1910.
In 1876, the year Colorado became a state, the National Base Ball League was formed and led to the development of modern baseball. The exhibit showed the difference in rules, including underhanded pitching until around 1884, and a step-by-step process of how the Louisville Slugger wooden bat is made.
“The historical value of our exhibits is completely subjective with each person’s own interests, but the baseball exhibit is definitely a huge part of this area,” Booth said.
Around the corner from the baseball exhibit is the Grand Junction History in Pictures exhibit and a re-creation of Fort Crawford. The picture exhibit separates the history of Grand Junction into decades since the 1880s.
Fort Crawford, located south of Montrose, was established in 1880 and was named after Captain Emmet Crawford who was killed while pursuing Geronimo. As a chief of the Apache tribe, Geronimo led battles against Mexico and the United States for their expansion into Apache tribal lands.
“I really like this museum because of the interactive opportunities and the emphasis on local history,” said Rebecca Hayden who was visiting the museum. “The kids get to have fun and we get to learn about our past.”
Hayden’s niece, Madisen, had visited the museum with her classmates several days before, and was excited to see the new exhibits. Madisen said her favorite exhibit was the Spanish Colonial Naval Cannon, which was used on warships and as protection for Spanish bases in the Southwest.
“I really liked the weapons from the Indians and the Spanish cannon,” said Madisen. “Those were the coolest.”
The museum expansion continues with an exhibit of Teddy Roosevelt using a Colt Model 1895 machine gun. The gun was modified in 1914 to fire more standard ammunition during the World War I.
Perhaps the most intricate exhibit is a series of Indian calendar paintings by Western artist Jack Roberts. Plains Indian tribes created names for each month, such as “Moon of Popping Trees,” which coincides with the month of January. Roberts illustrated each month based on the Indian names.
“The painting exhibit is probably one of the most valuable exhibits in terms of money,” said Don Kerven, maintenance supervisor. “There’s such a variety that it’s hard to put a value on any certain exhibit.”
The Museum of the West, 462 Ute Ave., is open Tuesday through Saturday. Summer hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.