The "Gift of History" never stops giving. It's there for every visitor to the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum and it's the name of the museum's annual fundraising breakfast supporting the museum's programs and exhibits.
This has been an energizing, palpably exciting year the almost-500 supporters learned at the Aug. 23 breakfast. There were 76,000 visitors at the museum in 2016 and the number continues to grow this year, spurring a feeling of energy throughout the historic building, said Curator of History Leah Davis Witherow. One major reason: the interactive "Story of Us," showing "who we are and who we were." It works "when history is told with you and not to you, said Witherow.
A favorite story was when one day she and the staff suddenly smelled fresh salsa. Students visiting the "Story of Us" alphabet area were learning about "V" for Vallejos Mexican Restaurant and used that restaurant's recipe for a hands-on experience. The museum smelled deliciously like salsa all day, said Witherow.
History is so important, said Museum Director Matt Mayberry. "It's understanding where we came from. We have to look backwards before we move forward."
As supporters donated almost $50,000 to keep moving forward, Mayberry and Witherow shared that women will be in the spotlight in March 2018. The "S" in "Story of Us" will be Sankofa, the culturally rich group that for 20 years until 2012 "helped educate this community and infuse their African history through drumming, dance and story telling. An amazing volunteer effort."
On March 24 The League of Wives' history will come to life. Led by Helene Knapp, these families of those MIA or POW in Vietnam had created a support group known internationally. Their 100,000 letters were delivered to the North Vietnamese Embassy.
Also coming to the museum: a Max the Marmot "high energy" exhibit for kids 2 through 6, opening on Thanksgiving. There's also a four-year plan leading to the 150th anniversary of the founding of Colorado Springs in 2021.