Museums. vs Attractions; The Pioneer Museum and the Ghost Town Museum

The Pioneer Museum in Colorado Springs  preserves and shares the heritage and history of the Colorado Springs area. At the museum you will be able to learn the history of the Colorado Springs area, including the Native American’s who first inhabited the region, early explorers of the area, and how Colorado Springs was founded. Visiting the  museum provides a  foundation of knowledge about Colorado that makes one better understand and appreciate other sites like Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. How are visitors supposed to understand the heritage behind such sites if they are not exposed to the sites history? 

The museum building itself is part of Colorado Springs history.The  Old Colorado Springs Courthouse houses the museum. As a way to preserve an aspect of the buildings history  visitors can experience what an old courtroom looks like as well as the marble staircase and beautiful ceilings of the second floor of the museum. Thus the Pioneer Museum is unique because it is history on top of history. A historic building that houses the heritage of the Colorado Springs area.

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Outside of the Pioneer Museum

One of the draws of tourism is the ability to experience another culture or region than what one is used to. The Pioneer Museum lets visitors do that because it fits into what scholars would call a museum. A museum is a building to house collections of objects for inspection, study and enjoyment. Visitors can learn what life what like for the local Native American’s in the area, and how they have kept their culture distinct in the present time. The pioneer exhibit gives viewers a chance to understand what life was like for the early white settlers of Colorado Springs and the struggles they endured while building a community. The exhibit local hospitals and sanitariums show how much healing power people in the 1900s believed the area had. Colorado Springs was a popular area for people to travel to if they were ill, especially if they were stricken with consumption. Visitors are not only looking at articulates and cool stuff, they are learning that Colorado Springs was shaped by several different cultures and events.

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In contrast to the Pioneer Museum  is the Ghost Town museum located right down the road in old Colorado City. The Ghost town museum is what scholars would call a re-representation, or a staged historical setting. The Ghost Town Museum is just what its name sounds like, a ghost town. Housed in what appears to be an old warehouse the museum features an exact replica of what an old western town in Colorado was thought to be like. There are old carriages, a Wells Fargo Stage Coach, and storefronts along the sidewalk.  Visitors can enter the saloon and stand at the bar, or look around the General store, or peer into the windows of the jail.

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While most of the artifacts and objects did indeed look old and authentic it was hard to tell their history because of the lack of signage. It appeared that visitors were supposed to take in the scene of the town as a whole without worrying about how the staff knew to reconstruct it accurately, or where they pulled their artifacts from and if they were authentic.

These two museums exemplify different ways heritage can be presented. The Pioneer Museum presents Colorado history, culture and events in a clear, concise manner. Facts and artifacts support their displays. The Ghost Town Museum displays the heritage of the old Colorado West, but without clear source or artifact documentation. The Pioneer Museum is more accurate because of the all the artifacts, sources and research that went into each individual exhibit. The Ghost Town museum appeals to tourist because it upholds western stereotypes perpetrated by Hollywood and literature. Both museums are fun to visit, but one must keep in mind what type of heritage and history a museum is trying to present and how their historical claims are supported.

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