The 1902 Pioneers Museum straddles Tejon Street and Nevada Avenue, two principal thoroughfares in Colorado Springs.
The 1902 Pioneers Museum straddles Tejon Street and Nevada Avenue, two principal thoroughfares in Colorado Springs.

The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum received the largest annual private gift in its 120-year history this week. An anonymous donor will provide $300,000 during the next three years (2016-2018) to support CSPM’s The Story of Us exhibit, which opens in January. The donation was announced by the museum’s board of directors and Matt Mayberry, CSPM director.

“The Story of Us is an innovative, interactive exhibit that is reshaping the way we tell stories. The scale and scope of this exhibit is larger than any we have undertaken, and the generosity displayed by this donor is truly transformational for the museum at this point in time,” Mayberry said. “It is allowing us to integrate cutting edge technology in the form large, drafting table touchscreens with the museum’s collection of maps, artifacts, photos and oral histories to share the stories of the Pikes Peak region. People can better understand their community if they better understand its history, and it is our hope The Story of Us can be a resource for people to shape their views of where we have been, where we are and where we are headed.”

The exhibit blends geography, history and technology, Mayberry said.

“Because of the city’s transience and sprawling cityscape in which urban renewal and other development has erased evidence of our past, it can be difficult for citizens to get engaged in the community and develop an awareness of the city’s distinct history,” he said. “It will provide museum guests compelling ways to discover the past, make sense of the present and shape the region’s future through a dynamic, hands-on exhibit. We are also excited about the possibilities for the project to include a crowdsourcing component as we move forward where people can upload their own photos and stories to become a part of The Story of Us.”

The Story of Us exhibit is expected to merge modern geographic information systems with the museum’s collections. Guests will learn and document their neighborhood’s history and those surrounding them, and stories are shared through an alphabetical “A-Z” study of local events and industries. For instance, “A” will examine the Antlers Hotel, and “C” will explore the region’s coal mining industry.

The historically relevant Pioneers Museum is located in the restored 1903 El Paso County Courthouse in downtown Colorado Springs. CSPM is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Hours are Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and admission to the museum is free. For more information, visit cspm.org or call 719-385-5990.