Aspen Historical Society mines memories for new museum |

Aspen Historical Society mines memories for new museum

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

ASPEN – The ski era is a period of Aspen’s history that virtually all locals know something about, and the Aspen Historical Society wants to mine those memories as it plans a new museum.

The society opens its Lift One Museum “design center” Tuesday in the Ajax Mountain Building on Durant Avenue (above Cafe Ink!), unveiling its ideas for the museum and seeking community input on the exhibits that will tell the town’s story from its inception as a ski resort to the present day.

“What we’re trying to do is figure out how to tell the story of modern Aspen,” said Georgia Hanson, the historical society’s executive director. “It’s the story of Aspen from 1936 forward.

“This is the community’s opportunity to impact how the story is told.”

The story begins with the establishment of the Highland Bavarian Lodge in the Castle Creek Valley, where the first organized ski operation took guests to ski Little Annie Basin on the back of Aspen Mountain rather than the front side, where the first ski run of the present-day ski area was later cut.

Though skiing defines Aspen’s modern era, the museum won’t be just about the town’s rich ski history, Hanson said.

“We think it’s skiing and the community together, and that they can’t be bisected,” she said.

The Lift One Museum, planned next to the historic Lift One at the town’s original Aspen Mountain base area, will have exhibits devoted not only to the origins of skiing in Aspen, but to the resort’s blossoming as a cultural mecca with institutions such as The Aspen Institute and Aspen Music Festival and School, its hippy era, and more recent developments and controversies.

The historical society wants input on what should be included and reminders about events it might have overlooked, said Hanson, who envisions an interactive museum and not simply artifacts in glass cases.

“What you gravitate to is when you came,” she said. “We all think what the good old days were was when we got here – it doesn’t matter whether it was in 1910 or the year 2000.”

The design center will be open Tuesday through Saturday each week, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., until the lifts close.

The planned museum is part of a development plan for the Lift One Lodge, a fractional membership project that has received conceptual approval from the city. The developers have proposed moving the former Skiers Chalet lodge building down the hill from its present location to Willoughby Park, just above Dean Street, next to the lower terminus of the old Lift One. The building would be refurbished and turned over to the historical society for the museum.

After the design center closes, the society will begin pursuing the design of the planned exhibits, Hanson said.

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