WALSENBURG (AP) – There’s a world of seashells, fossils and other ancient artifacts in land-locked Walsenburg.
There is no ocean in the middle of Colorado’s foothills, but that hasn’t stopped the Paleo and Pelagica Museum of Natural Science from displaying numerous ocean exhibits.
The facility was established to enlighten and entertain the public with scientifically important and visually exciting materials related to the preservation and advancement of the earth sciences, with special emphasis on marine creatures and ocean environments.
Anna Stanley, founder and executive director of the museum, said the facility also aspires to provide information both paleontological and contemporary, promotion of ocean conservation awareness and education, along with providing opportunities for the public to participate in the “hands-on” experience of scientific fieldwork.
“I’ve been working on the idea since 1999. I have family in Walsenburg. My brother has been there as a schoolteacher for about 40 years,” said Stanley, a Houston resident who spends a lot of time in Walsenburg.
Stanley said she chose southern Colorado for the site of the museum because there isn’t anything like it in the area.
“Walsenburg has three museums now. I was hoping that between the three, there could be something good for the town,” Stanley said.
The museum, usually open over the summer, is occasionally accepting visitors during the off-season and was scheduled to be open during the holidays.
The museum is in an old church built in 1902.
The museum focuses on marine and vertebrate paleontology. It also focuses on marine conservation.
The museum features the Barrande Lithograph Collection, including Barrandean trilobites collected during an expedition to the Czech Republic.
The museum also features what Stanley calls the Ocean Room.
“We’ve got corrals and seashells and a display on sharks,” Stanley said. It also includes an extensive trilobite collection, which is an extinct arthropod.
Stanley said she has been a fossil collector since she was a youth, and she has had the opportunity to work with some of the most famous paleontologists in the world.
“I’ve been on three fossil-hunting expeditions to Morocco with Dr. Riccardo Levi-Setti,” Stanley said. Levi-Setti, 87, has written a book about trilobites.
The museum also has an extensive library. While on the job assignment in Prague, Stanley visited many of the fossil localities made famous by the work of Joachim Barrande along with visiting and studying natural museums in Spain, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Germany and Kazakhstan.