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Kid-friendly Exhibits Bring New History Colorado Center to Life (Win tickets!)

**CONTEST CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO WINNERS Carrie Bousfield, Holly Bales, Kathy Noonan, and George Romero.**

I fall asleep every night as my husband watches the History Channel. To say history isn’t exactly my thing is an understatement.

So it was a complete shock to me that I fell in love with the new $110 million, high-tech History Colorado Center that will open its doors in a grand celebration on Saturday, April 28, 2012.

Last weekend, my kids and I had a chance to preview the museum before it opens to the public. Though there were a few kinks that will likely be worked out before Saturday, we were enraptured with the hands-on, high-tech exhibits that were juxtaposed against Colorado’s history. A few of my children’s favorites included:

Time Travel

Our journey to the past began in the glistening four-story Anschutz-Hamilton Hall. Above our heads was a wall of 132 interlocking LCD screens with fascinating Colorado history factoids. Under our feet was a 40- by 60–foot map of Colorado embedded in the terrazzo floor.

Have you ever day dreamed about time travel? Seven-foot-tall steam punk-style time machines make it possible. The map becomes animated when you physically drag the time machines over regional “hot spots” and the video screens wind back the clock with more than two dozen interesting and sometimes quirky stories such as the infamous Colorado-Texas tomato wars of the 1980s and Shep the Tollbooth Dog.

Only one-third of the History Colorado Center’s 40,000 square feet of exhibition space is filled. Additional exhibits will include LEGOrado, a rendition’s of Denver’s past constructed with LEGO bricks and in June, the museum will reveal the original state constitution.

Destination Colorado

We spent two hours touring the History Colorado Center and my kids’ favorite was the town of Keota, a 5,000-square foot exhibit that took us back to 1918. The High Plains community’s residents greeted us in life-sized media screens to give us a tour around town. It started with their virtual joy ride of driving a Model T Ford down a bumpy road (warning: look out for cows!)

Then they posed for their very own yearbook photo so they were among the graduating class of 1918 (pictures can be instantly emailed to you). Hadley was voted “Class Clown” and was a Campfire Girl. Bode was “Most Stylish” and his extracurricular activities included Pig Club.

I couldn’t be more proud.

The kids got a kick out of exploring smells of the past (warning: steer clear of the manure), milking a cow (instead of milk, the udders produce light) and also climbing up a ladder into the barn’s hayloft and barreling down the slide.

Hands down, their favorite activity was collecting wooden eggs from the chickens in the barn.

They then took their baskets to the General Store, weighed the eggs on the scale, carefully placed them in containers and received “money” for their hard work. (In 1925, you could get 23 cents store credit for a dozen eggs).

I’m not kidding when I say they loved this exhibit. When I tried to drag them away, Bode kept insisting, “But I need to do my job!”

I assure you he has never before verbalized those words.

Colorado Stories

The second floor is replete with media- and artifact-rich galleries dedicated to how Colorado was formed. Many of the topics are geared more to adults (such as the Sand Creek Massacre and the Ute Indian Tribes) but there are still plenty of kid-friendly, interactive exhibits such as the simulated “jump for joy” ski jump.

We tried to identify various animal pelts….

….And failed (fortunately, answers are on the back).

We also entered a cage in Sunnyside Mine that simulated going down in a mine shaft (not for the claustrophobic). When the bumpy ride ceased, we exited the cage from another door and entered this fascinating underground world where the kids learned the blasting process by following a pattern in the rocks before setting off an explosion.
In case you’ve ever wondered: kids + explosives = “cooooool!”

Mom’s Pick

I’ll admit it: I have a morbid fascination with outhouses so I dragged poor Bode into the two-seater with me.

Reading material was conveniently available inside and I got a kick out of learning that hotels accommodating many guests needed many holes in their outhouses. The Keota Hotel had four holes allowing for shared experiences and pleasant conversations among guests. My, how times have changed.

And a visit to the History Colorado Center will help you better appreciate it.

The Facts
The History Colorado Center is located at 1200 Broadway, Denver, CO. Standard admission prices: Adults-$10; Students (13-22)/Seniors (65+)-$8; Children (6-12)-$6; Children 5 and under-FREE; Members-FREE.

Opening Day Celebration

On Saturday, April 28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the History Colorado Center will be celebrating its grand opening with crafts, caricature artists and performers such as tightrope walkers, astronauts, cowboys and Colorado music. Timed tickets are available online at HistoryColoradoCenter.org and at the door. Cost for the Opening Day Celebration is standard admission and check-out the website for the schedule.

Contest

Mile High Mamas wants to send your family to the History Colorado Center! Please go here to enter to win one of two family four-packs of tickets. Contest deadline is May 2, 2012.

Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

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Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.