The first Colorado museum focused on the past, present and future achievements of Colorado women is coming to Denver.
303 Magazine: Why do you feel that it has taken this long to establish a women’s history museum in Colorado?
Jillian Allison: You know, were not exactly sure why it has taken this long, but were honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to do it now. We had the thought that since it hasn’t happened previously, why not make it happen now? It’s the right time and all of the pieces have come together. We’re excited.
303: How long has the idea for the museum been in process?
JA: We’ve been pondering how to make a bigger impact on this community for the last two years. We’ve been really honing in on it within the last year, detail wise. It’s one of those things that happened slowly, and then all at once. And we’ve really been working on ways to connect with people. We’ve been working with an advisory committee and volunteers to develop this center for quite awhile. Now that the pieces are ready, we’re ready to share it with the community.
303: How did your team turn the idea for the Women’s history museum into a reality?
JA: The Byers-Evans house is a perfect space for the center because it has such a long and real history of being a place where inspiring women lived. We took feed back from the community, our volunteers and our advisory committee before laying out the frame work that would make this center come together.
303: Describe the museum to those who have never been?
JA: The Evans family lived here for 92 years and left the contents of the house behind. So when guests come in it’s like stepping back into 1918. We have the library, a music room and exhibits with artifacts from powerful women of the past such as Red Cross uniforms, photos of women, some of their belongings and a type writer that guests can actually use. We will also have a gift shop with all sorts of books on Colorado women for young readers.
303: Have you received support from the community?
JA: I have been overwhelmed by the excitement that we’ve received when we announced opening the museum. So I am so excited to see what happened after our official launch next week, the response has really been positive.
303: Will the museum feature exhibit rotations? Monthly? Yearly?
JA: Yes. So the exhibit that we have now, WWI, will be replaced at some point. We don’t have a set end date for that but we are taking community requests on what they would like to see in the future. We have recently, with everything happening internationally, received a lot of requests for suffrage and an exhibit on women’s voting. So that’s definitely something that wed like to explore. We invite conversations and we want to know what the community is interested in seeing.
303: Will the museum feature weekly events and national/international speakers?
JA: The speakers and programs are in development, but we have a lecture series, where we bring in women to speak on topics that intrigue them. Right now were focused on Colorado and local stories but we do like to connect that to the national picture.
303: Do you feel that Colorado/Denver is a forerunner in women’s rights and progression?
JA: When you look at the suffrage movement and Colorado women landing the right to vote in 1893, that’s a fantastic benchmark. It’s so early in history. We definitely set the tone there.
303: How do you feel this museum will impact the Colorado community?
JA: We want to make Colorado women’s history everyone’s history. We see this museum as an opportunity to look at women’s stories throughout Colorado and see what their different perspectives are. We want to move beyond Denver, to Colorado as a whole, to get the broader statewide picture of women’s history. Part of our long-term plan is to develop programs that are not only for adults but also for young girls. We’ve done a women’s history essay writing contest for elementary and middle school students in the fall and that’s something that we want to continue and expand on. We are just excited to bring more people into the conversation of Colorado women’s history. So we encourage anyone and everyone to come on by and experience the museum.
The Center is open to the public at 10:30 a.m., March 21. They are located at the Byers-Evans House Museum — a historic home that has a record of housing strong and influential women, situated at 1310 Bannock Street, Denver. For more information on the Center, visit go here.
Photos courtesy of Byers Evans House.