Museum of the West
This museum offers a variety of interactive exhibits that trace the history of western Colorado over the past thousand years. The Native American galleries offer pottery and other artifacts from the period before Columbus's arrival to the 19th and 20th centuries. There are also displays that show the evolution of firearms on the frontier and a special room dedicated to the early Spanish explorers. Perhaps the highlight of the museum is a recreation of what Grand Junction looked like a hundred years ago, with full sized buildings from one-room schools to saloons. For those wishing to learn more, the Loyd Files Research Library on the second floor offers rare books, diaries, historic photographs, and other one-of-a-kind items for historians and genealogists.
Backstory and Context
The Museum of the West occupies a brick building on the corner of Ute St. and S. 5th St., across the street from Whitman Park, with parking adjacent to the building.
The museum displays an historic stagecoach and a 1958 Cessna aircraft. The local uranium mining boom from the 1950s is represented in exhibits.
A temporary gallery exhibit in 2020 is titled Famous, Framed and Folk Art: Eclectic Art from the Museum of the West's Collections. Artworks by Harold Bryant, Alfred Nestler and other prominent local artists are on display, along with folk art carved wagon trains.
The museum's tower, the Sterling T. Smith Education Tower, offers fantastic, 360-degree views of the area. There are exhibits on local geology, archaeology and historic preservation in the tower, too. The second floor of the building houses the Loyd Files Research Library, currently open by appointment only, Tuesday to Friday, 10a-4p. The library specializes in regional natural and cultural history and contains over 3,000 books in the Mesa County Genealogical Society's collection, historical maps, and other materials gathered by the county's Historical Society and the Quahada Chapter of the Colorado Archeological Society. Onsite research at the library is free, unless there are large-scale or commercial requests for research.
The Museum of the West currently charges admission of $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for children, and $20 for immediate family groups of up to six people. Members get in for free.
Special events are sponsored by the museum throughout the year. The second annual Speakeasy event on May 8, 2020 celebrates the roaring 20s, and encourages one and all to dress in period costumes.
The Museum of the West and the Loyd Files Research Library are part of a group in the region that form the Museums of Western Colorado. The others are the Cross Orchards Historic Site on the outskirts of Grand Junction and the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita. The mission of the museums is to inspire and connect their community by championing the scientific and cultural heritage of the Colorado Plateau.
Museums of Western Colorado. Locations, Museums of Western Colorado, Plan your visit. February 1st 2020. Accessed March 1st 2020. https://museumofwesternco.com/visit/locations/.
Visit Grand Junction. Museum of the West, Art-culture-museums. February 1st 2020. Accessed March 1st 2020. https://www.visitgrandjunction.com/art-culture-museums/museum-west.