Visitor numbers to what is now Telluride's only museum – the building dates back to 1896, when it served as Telluride's hospital – have increased 12% over last year. Even more significant are increases around outreach initiatives: the Museum's programming impacted 85% more people this year over last, due largely to the first annual Heritage Festival in June, which drew 1500 spectators to the Butch Cassidy reenactment. School programming is also up by over 56%, due to a concerted effort by the Museum to engage local students. Last month, for example, Museum staff and historian Rudy Davison accompanied Telluride Middle School 7th and 8th graders to the Tomboy ruins to discuss mining heritage and regional geology.
Somewhat of a disappointment in the face of all this good news: the number of locals taking advantage of "Free Thursdays" at the Museum has atrophied: visits are down 40% from 2008, while the Wilkinson is reporting an uptick in attendance to its programs.
"A lot of people think if they've been here once, they've seen it all," says Jenny Jacobi, guest services coordinator of the Museum. "The truth is, we have new exhibits every season and you just can’t absorb this whole place in one visit."
This winter, for example, look for an interesting collaborative effort, "Fabric of a Woman." The exhibit juxtaposes artful renderings of Victorian women on hand-made paper made by artist/photographer Eileen Benjamin with textiles and accessories from the Museum collection.
Before reopening for the winter (December 1), the Museum is hosting an Open House during the week of November 23 not only to reacquaint locals with town history, but also to explore future collaborations and Museum resources. To make an appointment for your employees, group or club, contact Beth Roberts: 728-3344 x. 2. Meanwhile, the Museum continues to offer free community yoga, every Monday, at noon.
Like a holiday ham, The Museum expects numbers to continue to fatten before the calendar year ends. Mark your calendars for a jam-packed December line up: the fifth annual Telluride Unearthed lecture series; two performances of a SquidShow Theatre original play; the premiere of “We Skied It” at the Sheridan Opera House, (a ski documentary of back-country skiing before the Telluride Ski Resort); and a full blown old-fashioned Christmas celebration, to be held at the Schmid Family Ranch. For more information, visit the Museum's website, www.telluridemuseum.com.