DENVER — When the COVID-19 shutdowns loosened up this summer, some of the big museums like History Colorado Center and The Denver Museum of Nature and Science reopened with safety protocols in place.
It was much more difficult for small museums that rely mostly on volunteers and donations to stay in business, but Raelee Frazier from the National Ballpark Museum in Denver had an idea: why not join with other small museums to share ideas, programs and marketing?
It's how the "Small Museum Block Party" was born, starting with meetings on Zoom.
"The first one was mostly hand holding", Frazier said. "We were all kind of scared about what we were going to be doing and if we were going to survive this".
Five museums joined the "party," including The National Ballpark Museum, The Black America West Museum, The Forney Museum of Transportation, The Museo de las Americas, and the Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys in Lakewood.
Forney and the Miniatures Museum are back open a few days a week. Museo is using a hybrid opening model, and the Ballpark Museum and the Black America West Museum are still closed.
All have expanded their online presence during the pandemic, including programming and interactive activities.
The museums are sharing programming material too. For instance, the Miniature Museum has Tonka Trucks to tell the story of transportation, like they do at The Forney Museum of Transportation. Forney's transportation theme can be used to tell the story of how baseball teams traveled through history.
The Ball Park Museum shares player stories from the Negro National League. Those players are pioneers in their sport, just like the Black cowboys were. And those black leaders featured at the Black America West Museum are like the Latino leaders featured at Museo. All five museums share a bond, and lots of stories to tell.
They also all rely on donations, which is crucial getting them through this very strange year. If you are interested in helping, they accept donations through their websites (links above), where you can also join the "block party."
This story is part of Gary Shapiro's Positively Colorado series where he'll highlight the good things happening in Colorado communities. Do you have a story idea to share with him? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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