In 2021, it’ll be 150 years since the founding of Colorado Springs — but the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum is kicking off the celebrations next year.

“We’re beginning a three-year process to celebrate Colorado Springs’ 150th anniversary,” said CSPM Director Matt Mayberry. “The first major exhibit addressing that will begin next fall. It will focus on our city’s founder, William Jackson Palmer, and it will exhibit materials that have never been seen by the public. It’s really exciting as we lead up to that.”

Since 1903, CSPM has been researching, collecting and interpreting the history of the once-quaint resort town nicknamed “Little London” because of its popularity with English tourists.

“We think museums should be a mirror of the community, so the stories that we tell, the artifacts that we collect, the programs that we offer, really should reflect the diversity of the community — and not just ‘back in the olden days’ of our founders, but throughout time,” Mayberry said. “We need to expand our collections to make sure they accurately reflect that diversity, and there are great stories here. I’m biased, but I love our history and I’ve never lived anywhere with quite the richness of history that Colorado Springs has.”

Mayberry said the museum has participated in Give! many times, and the campaign is important both for funding and for reaching people who’ve never visited or donated before.

“[Give!] will continue our ability to outreach to the public, to tell what we think are really important stories about the past, how Colorado Springs became what we are today,” he said. “I think by understanding the community’s history people have a better chance of influencing where we’re going to go in the future. It’s all about educating the public about our heritage.

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“For us the dollars are important, but we always are hopeful for new people who have never made a donation to the museum. That’s what’s really rewarding about the Give! program. It’s expanding our reach or engaging new donors who otherwise might not hear about us.”

More than 100,000 people have visited CSPM this year, including thousands of schoolchildren who explore the museum as part of their local history curriculum. Every visit, exhibit, lecture, tour and event is free.

“We are free by deed restriction. We’re a public-private partnership, so the city of Colorado Springs owns the grounds, they own the building, they own the collection. We are city employees,” Mayberry said. “But the city also expects that we will raise money to support our operations, and so we have a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that helps support this, so anyone who donates through Give! is part of the nonprofit component of the museum’s operations. We have to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to make all of this possible.”

Right now, museum staff are putting the finishing touches on the Festival of Lights event for Dec. 1.

“We’ll have music, crafts, activities, magic, all of the things that many generations of visitors to the museum come to expect for our Festival of Lights celebration,” Mayberry said. “It’s a great way to get into the spirit of the holidays. All of this is free — it’s our gift to the community and a way for us to kick off the season.”

Donate through Dec. 31 to any of our 93 nonprofits at indygive.com.

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