Living West

Colorado's fierce yet fragile natural environment has shaped human history, and human choices have shaped the land. The Science Museum of Minnesota partnered with History Colorado to plan Living West, an exhibition that uses the past to inform and illuminate choices about Colorado's future. Through the stories of people who have lived in three different regions and time periods—Mesa Verde in the 1200s, Baca County during the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, and the Rocky Mountains today—visitors explore how the land has shaped the past and present of Colorado and how, in turn, human choices have shaped the land.

BACK TO PROJECT HISTORY

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Entrance
Entrance
Visitors hear three Coloradans talk about how the Colorado landscape has shaped their past and present, and are prompted to think about how our choices affect Colorado's future.

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Water the turkeys
Water the turkeys
Visitors hear a surprise when they help water the turkeys by carrying a pot over to the turkeys and pouring "water" in to their bowl.

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Water use
Water use
Visitors pump water to see how the amount of water they use every day compares to the daily water use of an ancestral Pueblo person.

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Lift the pot
Lift the pot
Visitors try to lift a water pot to feel how much two and half gallons of water weigh. (If you had lived among the ancestral Pueblo people, you might have gotten used to carrying such loads every day.)

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Dust Bowl sliders
Dust Bowl sliders
An interactive wall of sliders, objects, video, and a spinnable wheel reveals the causes of the Dust Bowl, one of the worst environmental disasters in American history.

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Jackrabbits
Jackrabbits
Visitors press a button to turn a few jackrabbits into what appears to be a field full of the ravenous rabbits that boomed when farmers plowed the plains.

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Black Sunday Theater
Black Sunday Theater
The Black Sunday Object Theater puts visitors inside a farmhouse in southeastern Colorado as one of the worst storms of the Dust Bowl rolls through.

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Water through the mountains
Water through the mountains
Visitors try to figure out how to divert water from west to east—through the mountains—and still make sure everyone gets plenty of it.

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Elk video and flipbook
Elk video and flipbook
A flipbook and monitor next to an elk specimen illustrate how people have relied on elk for food, and how elk numbers have shrunk or grown because of human actions.

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Denver to Breckenridge
Denver to Breckenridge
Visitors take a four-and-a-half minute drive from Denver to Breckenridge to see how the big changes happening in the mountains are happening faster than we might think.

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See how much water is in the snowpack
See how much water is in the snowpack
Visitors turn a crank to raise the level of snow in a tube and see how much liquid water is in Colorado's snowpack.

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Pine beetle sounds
Pine beetle sounds
Visitors open a small door in a replica of a lodgepole pine tree and hear the eerie sounds of mountain pine beetles chewing into the bark.

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Summit Cafe
Summit Cafe
The Summit Cafe is home to a few interactives that help visitors see how their choices affect the future of Colorado.
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