Living West

History Colorado
Denver, CO

The opening of the new History Colorado Center provided an opportunity for History Colorado to put dynamic discussion and civic engagement at the center of learning. Their intention with the new center is to engage visitors in the history of Colorado in order to create a better Colorado for the future.

Living West is a key part of History Colorado’s transformation. Living West is an exhibit on the environmental history of Colorado that explores the complex and changing relationships between Coloradoans and their environment.

Divided into three parts, each Living West section focuses on the interactions between people and place at a different time in Colorado. The first section focuses on the daily lives of ancestral Pueblo people in the Mesa Verde region 800 years ago. The second examines how people, plows, debt, and drought caused the Dust Bowl in southeastern Colorado in the 1930s. The third focuses on the present-day Rocky Mountains, where more people than ever are living and playing while at the same time climate change affects mountain snowpack and fire ecology. Common themes—water, aridity, and wild life—tie all three stories together.

Volunteer facilitated activities and theater programs help to engage visitors of all ages. Programs for families, schools, and adults further connect audiences with environmental themes and interactive exhibit elements foster social interaction and discussion by allowing multiple visitors to try an activity simultaneously.

By engaging visitors with both the environmental choices Coloradans made in the past and the current effects they have on the land, water, and wildlife around them, the exhibit makes connections between the past and present. Living History generates multi-generational conversations about the environment while stimulating dialogue about the future — what decisions will Coloradans have to make to continue living in a place they love?