Even before Purgatory, skiing popular in San Juans


Even before Purgatory, skiing popular in San Juans

Animas Museum opens exhibit illustrating evolution of sport in Southwest Colorado

A look at the History of Skiing Exhit at the Animas Museum

What’s up at Animas Museum?

New Animas Museum Executive Director Sherry Bowman finds herself leading a fragile organization, with a budget so tight volunteers take the museum’s trash home. The staff consists of three part-time employees (including Bowman), and a stalwart cohort of volunteers are what makes it work.
“One of the things I love most about this place is how much people pull together to get things done,” Bowman said about the volunteers, who contribute between 250 and 300 hours each month. “We would not be able to get the types of grants we do if we did not have the in-kind donations from their help.”
The other main support comes from members, with membership fees providing the bulk of the museum’s financial support.
“So many people come and tell us they’ve never been here before,” said retired Fort Lewis College professor Mona Charles, who oversees exhibits and collections and helps with grant writing. “Or they tell us they haven’t come since they came with their children’s classes. But this is their history, too.”
The museum has several exhibits in different stages of planning. It recently opened the History of Skiing in La Plata County, and has a quilting show coming together to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the La Plata Quilters Guild.
Bowman is beginning a fundraising push, including seeking capital dollars to repair a stair landing that is separating from the side of the building.
“We are applying for a grant from History Colorado for that,” Bowman said, “But they like you to have 25 percent in matching funds in the bank before they’ll give it to you.”
She is particularly perturbed about the lack of support from the city of Durango.
“It’s not just that this is the last community building left from Animas City,” Bowman said, “but we archive, in perpetuity, the city’s collection of 800 items that used to be kept at the Durango Public Library. And that costs money. All our costs have gone up, including utilities and archival materials.”
Bowman said she has asked for soft support, such as the city paying for garbage removal, but has been told the policy is that if they do it for one nonprofit, they would have to do it for all nonprofits.
“There are only a handful of us who have responsibility for a facility,” she said. “The last time I was in, the city manager (Ron LeBlanc) asked if we’d consider moving downtown so our 1904 building could be razed and our six lots could be used for affordable housing.”

If you go

The Animas Museum, 3065 West Second Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays from November through April. Admission is $4 for adults; $3 seniors 65 and older; $2 for children ages 7-12; and free for La Plata County Historical Society members and children 6 and younger.

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