The best room money can buy |

The best room money can buy

Tonya Bina
Grand Lake, CO Colorado
Photo courtesy of History Colorado

GRAND LAKE – The new $110.8 million, 200,000 square-foot History Colorado Center in Denver, which officially opens to the public April 28, will likely have a space officially named “The Grand Lake Room.”

A group of Grand Lake devotees has raised nearly $100,000, with the promise of a $50,000 match from an anonymous donor, to have an estimated 25-foot by 12-foot conference room in the new museum named “The Grand Lake Room.” The funding goal is part of a larger $33 million fundraising campaign for the new museum and its statewide outreach programs and its tactile and experiential museum exhibits.

As of Wednesday, the Grand Lake room campaign was about $7,000 short of its funding goal of $150,000. But fundraising point person Canton (Scally) O’Donnell of Denver and Grand Lake said he was confident the goal would be met by the Monday, April 30, deadline.

“Now there’s no question we’ll make it,” he said.

The conference room is located near the marketing and education offices of the museum and will hold both external and internal meetings, according to Megan Mahncke, capital campaign director of the History Colorado Center.

The room, available to the public, will have historic photos of Grand Lake on the walls. Museum curators will work with the community to determine what will be displayed, Mahncke said.

And O’Donnell, along with his son Bruce O’Donnell, a History Colorado board member, is negotiating archiving “the history of Grand Lake and the Grand Lake Yacht Club” at the museum. “Once that is determined, we will work with the Grand Lake Historical Society about what they would want archived,” Canton O’Donnell said.

The majority of monetary donations have been from Grand Lake Yacht Club members, but the room will encompass the history of the town of Grand Lake as well as Grand Lake Yacht Club history, he said.

At a History Colorado event a few months ago, the conversation of naming the room sprouted somewhat “facetiously” O’Donnell said, when he and others from Grand Lake suggested to museum officials, “Why don’t you give us our own room?”

“The guy responded, ‘Why don’t you give us some dough?'” O’Donnell said.

Grand Lake is the first and only community to come together with a donation to name a room in the museum, according to Mahncke.

“The grassroots effort speaks volumes to the community in Grand Lake,” she said.

Located in Denver’s Golden Triangle Museum District and Civic Center cultural complex, the new History Colorado Center building was designed by Denver-based architecture firm Tryba Architects. The Center serves as headquarters for the History Colorado administration, including the State Historical Fund, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and the Stephen H. Hart research library.

The building includes highly interactive exhibitions, from a terrazzo floor map of the state with a storytelling time machine, a virtual ride in a Model T, the ability to don a headlamp and descend into the Silverton hard-rock mine, and a virtual soar of off the world’s first ski jump in Steamboat Springs.

The new History Colorado Center exhibitions will open in three phases over the course of the next three years. Exhibits on the first and second floors are opening this Saturday, exploring the “spirit and stories of Coloradans, its enduring communities, triumphs and tragedies,” according to History Colorado press statements.

The Center is the museum in place of the former Colorado History Museum, which was located on 13th Ave. and Broadway. It closed to the public in March 2010 and was demolished the following May.

Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603

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