Current Exhibits & Displays
Decade by Decade: Aspen Revealed
Exhibit at Wheeler/Stallard Museum, summer 2020 – spring 2024
Click here for museum hours and admission information.
This exhibition offers a comprehensive view of Aspen’s fascinating past, exploring the stories that shaped the community’s distinct identity. From mining boom to dilapidated ranching town to today’s international recreational and cultural resort, Aspen forged a unique path. Featuring photographs and artifacts that represent Aspen’s connection to national events and trends, the exhibition reflects on the community’s place within the larger historical landscape of the nation – sometimes congruent, sometimes divergent, but always exciting. Decade by Decade: Aspen Revealed will appeal to visitors and locals of all ages, showcasing the depth of the AHS Collection.
Thanks to our generous supporters who made this exhibit possible:
Melony and Adam Lewis
Lynda and Stewart Resnick
Jacolyn and John Bucksbaum
Corrine and Lenny Sands Foundation
Fred and Elli Iselin Foundation
Thrift Shop of Aspen
Charles Cunniffe Architects
Austin Memorial Foundation
Bob Beattie Ski Foundation
Ruth Turnquist Carver
Barbara Reid and David Hyman
Allison and David Ratajczak
Susan and Chuck Riepenhoff
Christin and Mark Taché
Valley Fine Art
The Aspen Times
Aspen Illustrated News
Display in the Archives Building Community Gallery, please call ahead to confirm access
A curated display of historical images from the newly accession Aspen Illustrated News Collection offers viewers a photojournalistic history of life in the area in the late 1960s. Launched as an alternative to The Aspen Times, the Aspen Illustrated News was published weekly from December 18, 1964 through February 1970. The newspaper was owned and published by Harold Pabst (of the Pabst Blue Ribbon family) and, according to the inaugural issue, the paper was “…dedicated to bringing, both in words and pictures, news of interest to Aspen and Pitkin County. Aspen and Pitkin County are growing at a pace which virtually guarantees that we will have more problems, not less. This calls for more community action, cooperation, and solid information.” The photo-heavy publication featured images taken by staff and freelancers, including prolific photographer David Hiser, who provided a vibrant view of the 1960s as they documented life in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. The Aspen Illustrated News Collection was donated by the Pabst family and includes hard copies of the issues as well as more than 5,500 images taken by various photographers for the paper.
The Community Gallery will open for the summer on June 13, 2023. The Gallery is open during Archives Office hours (Monday – Friday, 9 am – 4:30 pm), however it is best to call ahead to confirm access in case there are meetings or gatherings in the room that prohibit viewing of the display. The Archives Office is closed for major holidays, including Thanksgiving and the Friday after, as well as the week between Christmas and New Years.
Airport Display | History of the Roaring Fork Valley
Display at Pitkin County Airport Departures Terminal, June 2017 – present
Photographs from the AHS Collection depicting historic scenes honor the the valley’s mining, ranching, skiing and Native American heritage.
Seasons of the Nuche: Transitions of the Ute People
Available for regional groups to host in their venues.
Aspen Historical Society’s traveling exhibit, Seasons of the Nuche: Transitions of the Ute People explores the past and present of the Ute people in the American West. AHS curated the traveling exhibit from the award-winning exhibition of the same name, displayed at the Wheeler/Stallard Museum between 2012 and 2015, which was designed with input from Ute tribal members. The traveling exhibit, comprising modular display panels and interactive elements, including a tipi, will help bring the history and culture of the Ute people to communities on Colorado’s Western Slope. Grant support from The Memnosyne Institute and the Louis and Harold Price Foundation enables AHS to provide the exhibit to regional organizations to host in their communities with no rental cost, helping make the educational content accessible to the widest audience possible through partnerships with historical societies, libraries, civic groups, schools, and more. Recent hosts of the traveling exhibit include the Rifle Heritage Center (in partnership with the Rifle Branch Library), the Grand Valley Historical Society and the RE-1 school district.
To host the exhibit in your community, contact AHS Curator Lisa Hancock at 970.925.3721 or [email protected]
Past Exhibits & Displays
1956 trail map of Aspen and the surrounding area, produced by Aspen Park Cabins (located just below Difficult Campground). Aspen Historical Society Collection
Maps Through the Decades
Display in the Archive Building Community Gallery, Summer 2020 – Spring 2023
Maps Through the Decades featured historical maps of many varieties from the AHS Archives. From mining claims to trail maps, the new display presents a curated selection of the extensive AHS map collection. The display included maps as functional works of art from 1870 through 1970, celebrating the creation process of maps such as the Hayden Geological Survey and illustrating how maps shaped the evolution of the area from wildlands to mining camp to modern mountain town.
bayer & bauhaus: how design shaped aspen
Exhibit at Wheeler/Stallard Museum, December 2018 – March 2020
Aspen Historical Society presented bayer & bauhaus: how design shaped aspen as part of the 2019 Bauhaus 100: Aspen celebrations in honor of the centenary of the German art school “Bauhaus.” The exhibit explored the profound, but often unnoticed influence of Herbert Bayer’s work on Aspen, Colorado. Following his arrival in 1946, Bayer’s Bauhaus ethos and artistic vision began to shape the modern aesthetic and way of life in the Aspen community. He pioneered historic preservation in the area, designed a Bauhaus-inspired campus at the Aspen Institute, influenced local architecture, built innovative earthworks and helped guide the community’s cultural and philosophic values. Aspen Historical Society’s never-before-exhibited Bayer collection offered a unique view into his extensive works – both fine art and commercial – sharing a glimpse into Bayer’s lasting impact through preliminary sketch studies, original prints, architectural drawings, graphic design works, historical photographs, and more.
Thanks to our generous supporters for making this exhibit possible:
Lynda and Stewart Resnick
Lynda and Stewart Resnick
Susan Taylor and Robert Pew, in Honor of Fidel Duke
The Aspen Times*
Charles Cunniffe Architects
First Western Trust
Soledad and Robert Hurst
Gail and Alec Merriam
Valley Fine Art Limited
The Durrance Collection
Community Gallery in the Archive Building, Spring 2019 – Spring 2020
In 2018, the Durrance family generously donated photographs by Margaret and Dick Durrance to Aspen Historical Society. Donated by Dick Jr. and Dave Durrance (sons of Margaret “Miggs” and Dick Sr.) and, the collection of over 800 images captures Aspen and Aspenites beginning in the 1940s. Margaret Durrance was a professional photographer who worked with her husband while he pursued film projects; her work appeared in national magazines such as LIFE, Look, Sports Illustrated and National Geographic. The collection features color as well as black and white images and focuses on skiing and ski races as well as Aspen’s culture of music and intellectual pursuits. The Durrances’ long history in the area and their immense contributions to the development of Aspen and Snowmass are reflected in the 90 + images on display.
The Collection was accessioned with support from the Fred & Elli Iselin Foundation; it is available to view online at www.archiveaspen.org.
Chamberlain Photographic Display
Community Gallery in the Archive Building, Spring 2018 – Spring 2019
In 2017 AHS received a generous donation to the Collection from notable photographer, Robert M. Chamberlain. Bob, a professional photographer and artist, has documented life in the area since the 1960s. From hippie culture to modern-day ski racing, he artfully captured the pulse of the community for decades. Curated images tell the story of a community of young ski bums evolving slowly and sometimes gracefully into Aspen old-timers. An Aspen resident since 1958, Bob’s first published work graced the cover of SKI Magazine Annual in 1962 and he was a frequent contributor to many local and regional publications.
The Chamberlain photographic collection is available online at www.archiveaspen.org.
Freak Power: Hunter Thompson’s Campaign for Sheriff
Exhibit at Wheeler/Stallard Museum, June 18 – September 29, 2018
This annotated guest exhibit featured a collection of political art and writing from Hunter S. Thompson’s 1970 campaign for sheriff of Pitkin County. AHS partnered with Freak Power curator DJ Watkins to share a special selection of the exhibition’s 125 pieces alongside select artifacts from the AHS Collection.
The exhibition told the story of the Freak Power platform through original campaign material, photographs, and political art. What started as a stunt to upset local conservatives gained momentum as like-minded candidates adopted the platform for other regional races. The local movement to transform Aspen connected to a national undercurrent and the issues at stake ultimately influenced the trajectory of social and political reform in the community. As weird a tale as he ever conceived, Thompson’s personal forays into politics may have been his wittiest, most thought-provoking, and impactful escapade of all.
Bests, Firsts & Worsts: Aspen in Objects
Exhibit at Wheeler/Stallard Museum, June 2015 – April 2018
This popular exhibition 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. Top choices 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; and many others!
Due to this exhibit’s popularity, AHS released an updated exhibition catalog in 2017. The special edition evergreen literary exhibition is available to view online, or purchase your collectors-item printed edition at the Wheeler/Stallard Museum store as well as at Explore Booksellers in Aspen.
Aspen’s Ski Racing History
Display at Wagner Park World Cup Village, March 2017
Ski racing is integral to Aspen’s identity and in March of 2017, the World Cup Finals held in Aspen marked the 50th anniversary of the World Cup racing tour. With support from Ajax Holdings and Aspen Skiing Company, AHS curated a pop-up display to honor the history of ski racing in Aspen. Ski racing had it’s start in Aspen as early as 1936 and since then, the community has embraced ski racing competitions as an important element of the local economy and a source of civic pride. The display, featuring artifacts and a timeline of the evolution of the skiing and racing in Aspen, was open to the public and supported by screenings of historic ski films from the AHS Collection.
AHS also curated smaller ski racing history displays at the top of Aspen Mountain and at Pitkin County airport during the 2017 World Cup celebrations.