Aspen Historical Society has been slowly reopening its museums since social distancing guidelines started easing in late spring. The Wheeler/Stallard Museum opened in late June, and on Tuesday, July 14, the museum unveils its newest exhibit "Decade by Decade: Aspen Revealed."
The exhibition includes photographs, clothing and other relics documenting Aspen’s path from 19th century mining town to 20th century ski hub. The collection spans 100 years of artifacts catalogued by decade, with the earliest items dating back to 1870.
“It is probably one of the most dense with artifacts and photographs from our collection that I’ve seen," said Aspen Historical Society's Vice President Nina Gabianelli. "We present you with what’s going on in the world and then what was happening in Aspen at that same time.”
Gabianelli said visitors can expect to see archived material from local Native American tribes, along with momentos from the 1970s-era Aspen State Teachers College, which called itself the "No Credit, Fun College of The Rockies" on a 1979 handbook. Skiing is another prominent part of the archive.
"[We have] everything from a chairlift from the original Lift One that went up Aspen Mountain in 1946, and a lot of skis through racing skis from the 1950s," said Gabianelli. "It's fun to see how the ski evolves and the bindings evolve."
The historical organization also opens a smaller exhibition called "Maps through the Decades" on Tuesday in its Community Gallery, which covers a myriad of maps from Aspen Historical Society's vast collection. Everything from outlines of old mining claims to trail maps will be on display. Gabienelli said the collections complement each other, and paint a picture of what's shaped Aspen since its inception.
"One of my favorite pieces that's on display [at the Community Gallery] is the one that shows the tunnels and shafts that are within both Smuggler and Aspen Mountain, that was done in 1943," said Gabianelli. "It's a really cool way of looking at how far into the mountain the miners were exploring back in the 1890s."
The Wheeler/Stallard Museum and its exhibits are open Tuesday through Saturday, with one hour each day (11 a.m. to 12 p.m.) reserved for seniors and others with vulnerable immune systems due to COVID-19.