Summer is right around the corner in Aspen and boy am I EXCITED! There’s a lot to be excited about, you see, with a guest exhibition being installed next door at the Wheeler/Stallard Museum this very minute! And then there’s also the matter of me, the Archive Building, winning TWO AWARDS for last year’s remodel! I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Before I gush about my awards and the new exhibit, I wanted to look back at the previous exhibit, “Bests, Firsts & Worsts: Aspen In Objects,” which just came down after almost three years on display.
Over 4,000 people visited the popular exhibition, which explored Aspen’s quirky history through 120 objects, each with its own story that shed light on Aspen’s bright – and dark – times. From archaic Ute Indian tools to Steve Job’s personal mouse for his Lisa computer, the exhibit offered an intimate glimpse at the stories and events that make Aspen such an exceptional place. With a focus on superlatives, the AHS staff invited visitors to decide for themselves whether the artifacts represent a “best,” “first,” or “worst” and to choose their favorite artifact. My favorites (because who can choose just one) included a chunk of the largest silver nugget ever mined in the United States; Aspen’s first female mayor’s gavel; a rare edition of the Aspen Times printed on the back of old maps when exceptionally heavy snows stopped the trains from delivering paper; and a single chair from Aspen Mountain’s first chair lift, Lift One. But really, I could go on and on about the highlights of this wonderful exhibit.
And I’m not alone…my oh my did people love this exhibition! The AHS staff and I got a kick out of reading the notes visitors left in the guest book, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites, written by visitors from near and far, with you here:
- “Chock full of “quirky” electric paraphernalia I fit rite in 😊” – unnamed, circa 2015
- “Many memories brought back to life. Had Aspen cologne as a youngster, never tying it to this area.” – unnamed, circa 2015
- “Fascinating – wish I had more time and a bigger brain capacity to remember it all.” – Jay & Jan F, Thornton, CO, circa 2015
- “Wonderful walk through time!! My favorite artifacts were the 1890s divers and ballot box. Never know Aspen was so progressive….Women’s suffrage in the 1890s! Wow! Davis Waite lived on the same street as my great, great, great, aunt from Sweden!! – Tanya S, October 15, 2015
- “Wow this exhibit is amazing! Brings me back to childhood! What an amazing town we live in! 😊” – Jill P, February 2016
- “We came from Leipzig Germany to see the history of Aspen. Favorite object for me was the mouse and recording of Steve Jobs. Bob’s favorite was the banning of furs.” – Bob & Marty M, April 12, 2016
- “It was pretty nice and had a couple of cool things.” – K.A. T, OK, May 26, 2016
- “Bravo! Tre belle expositien! Thanks.” – Francoise R, Paris, France, 9 Juin 2017
- “We’ve been coming to Aspen/Snowmass to ski in winter and hike in summer since the late 1970s but learned so much about the area on this trip, thanks to the Smuggler Mine tour and this excellent museum. Thank you!” – Ivan D, July 25, 2017
- “Thank you for preserving this building and history, true or not…enjoyed the detail.” – Betsy H, Norfolk, VA, September 28, 2017
- “What an eye opener. It’s completely overwhelmed my impression (from the UK) of Aspen and its culture. I’ve learned so much. Thank you.” – MD Wales, UK, January 30, 2018
- “My wife Malika and I visited this wonderful historic town, such an experience, received good information from the staff on duty, certainly appreciated. – Saiyed Rahim W from Afghanistan residing in New York, April 26, 2018
On behalf of the entire AHS staff and board, thank you to everyone who visited the exhibit. If you missed out on seeing it, you’re in luck! Due to its popularity, AHS released an updated exhibition catalog in 2017. The evergreen literary exhibition is available for purchase at the Wheeler/Stallard Museum store as well as at Explore Booksellers in Aspen.
Until next time (when I will get back to talking about myself…),
The “Eye of the Archive” blog post series, authored by A.B. (personified AHS Archive Building), offers an insider’s glimpse into the goings-on at Aspen Historical Society. Tune in for off-the-cuff posts about the Collection, restoration projects, exhibit tid-bits, news around town, and more.