Pioneer Village Museum’s new manager to expand programming |

Pioneer Village Museum’s new manager to expand programming

Serena Fanning, the new manager for the Pioneer Village Museum, hopes to draw a larger and more diverse audience to the museum.
McKenna Harford /

HOT SULPHUR SPRINGS — Tucked off Highway 40 in an old school house is Hot Sulphur Springs’s hidden gem, the Pioneer Village Museum. The museum’s new manager, however, is hoping it doesn’t stay hidden for much longer.

Serena Fanning, the Pioneer Village Museum manager, started at the museum in May and said she was drawn to the museum because of its small town charm and quality exhibits.

“(The museum) has done such a great job, an a-plus job with their exhibits,” Fanning said. “It’s not small town at all, it’s very professional. And the people up here are so passionate about their history. I found that invigorating.”

Fanning, 51, previously worked at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Art Museum and the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. She said her experience at these museums will help her engage the Grand County community and her time at the hotel taught her a lot about storytelling.

“Engaging the community is especially important here because the community is smaller,” she said.

Shanna Ganne, executive director for the Grand County Historical Association, said Fanning’s excitement about the community and the world of small museums made her a great addition to the museum.

“One of the largest challenges for GCHA is how do you make a historical association relevant in a changing community and so her being willing to examine that question and answer it in different ways is what stuck out to me,” Ganne said.

So far, Fanning’s favorite part of the job is the diversity in projects, events, research and information requests. Her job includes everything from helping documentarians find family histories to history walks to planning events and exhibits, but through everything she tries to keep the museum fresh and relevant.

One way she plans to do that is by increasing and diversifying the museum’s programming so that it appeals to people across age groups and interests. For example, the museum will be offering a discussion on the history of Bill Redman and the 1883 shooting, as well as hosting a Halloween event for local kids.

“We don’t want to be stereotyped and have just one kind of clientele, we would like to cater to everybody although the underlying connection is history,” Fanning said. “There’s so many forms of history so I hope to engage a diverse range of people.”

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