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Aspen Historical Society opening ‘Decade by Decade’ exhibition this week

Staff report

The Aspen Historical Society will open its new exhibition “Decade by Decade: Aspen Revealed,” on Tuesday in the Wheeler/Stallard Museum.

As the title suggests, the show offers a comprehensive and chronological view of Aspen history. It focuses on the 1870s through the 1970s, using narratives, photographs and artifacts to tell the story of the town from the Victorian-era mining boom through the “Quiet Years” to its postwar identity as an international ski resort. “Decade by Decade” will also illustrate stories that shaped the community’s distinct identity and how it connected with national events and trends.

“I have selected artifacts and images from the AHS Collection to act as signposts for the larger concepts, achievements, and issues that have defined this community,” curator Lisa Hancock said in an announcement. “Population data reflects the area’s fluctuating prosperity. The sub-theme of women’s history — from textiles to examples of grassroots organizing by local women — was inspiring to discover, especially during the centennial anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States in 2020.”

The show was many years in the work, said director Kelly Murphy, with the coronavirus pandemic hitting — and shutting down the institution — during the home stretch.

“The planning, funding, and installation of ‘Decade by Decade’ occurred during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “We cannot overstate our gratitude to our supporters who made the exhibition possible during this difficult time.”

The exhibition aims to showcase the depth of the Historical Society collection to recount the evolution of the area’s identity and share the stories of its people. Historical Society officials hope it can inform and empower the community’s locals and visitors during the ongoing public health crisis.

“The people of this valley have faced adversity time and again with strength and resilience,” Murphy added. “We take comfort in knowing history will inform the path forward.”

The museum will also open “Maps Through the Decades” on Tuesday in the Archives Building Community Gallery.

The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, with the 11 a.m. to noon hour reserved for vulnerable guests and noon to 5 p.m. open for the general public. Masks are required, while social distancing and health safety measures are strictly observed in the museum.

Admission is free for Historical Society members at both the Wheeler/Stallard and the Holden/Marolt Ranching & Mining Museum. Both opened June 30 following a 15-week public health closure.


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