Let’s Go Exploring! Wyman Museum is a rare chance to explore local and national history.
Editor’s note: The time the museum is open has been corrected. It’s open until 4 p.m. during the winter months on Mondays and Fridays.
Wyman Living History Museum is located only 3.5 miles outside of Craig, but is a rare chance to step into a whole different time and place.
Joanne Roberson, who is going into year five of working at Wyman Living History Museum, says the museum represents 70-plus years of Lou Wyman’s collecting.
“We have so much stuff in here, people don’t even realize,” Roberson said, “you can go through it again and again and not see the same thing.”
Wyman, who will turn 89 years old on Feb. 26, began collecting in 1949. The collections, ranging in theme from military to wildlife, have been thoughtfully staged by Wyman’s curator, Nicky Boulger, giving a look into what Wyman considers much simpler times.
Roberson says museum guests will come in thinking they will spend an hour, and end up staying until closing time. The unique thing about Wyman’s collection is his attention to the small and large details that made up daily life of different periods in local, national and global history.
Wyman’s military collection has items representing each war in which the U.S. has participated, and even contains a piece of the Berlin Wall. Local veterans’ names, photos and stories are displayed courtesy of a project by Sunset Elementary students.
People of every age and interest will find something appealing to them at the museum. For the automotive aficionado, there is a fully restored 1915 Stevens-Duryea, proudly displayed alongside a collection of early 20th Century motorized vehicles and going further back to horse-drawn carriages.
Other exhibits highlight the Moffat Tunnel and construction of the railroad, early agricultural tools, a look inside local mining culture, and a kitchen staged to portray daily domestic life. In addition to Wyman’s selections, all of the collections contain items that are donated or on loan to the museum.
The museum opened in 2005 and has gained some national recognition in more recent years. In 2018, the collection caught the attention of the national television series “American Pickers,” and was featured on the show in April of 2018 in an episode titled “One of Everything.”
What to do
During the winter months, Wyman Museum is open to the public on Monday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and those hours expand in March as visitor numbers start to rise.
Wyman Museum is host to historic buildings including: the Pagoda Store; Axial schoolhouse from Meeker, Colo.; the red barn from the Williams Fork homestead; and a working blacksmith shop originally from Walden, Colo. All of these have been restored and curated to display their original operations.
All of the buildings on the campus are open year-round, and, during spring and summer, the blacksmith shop is fully operational. When the weather is warmer, there is plenty of outdoor space for museum guests to enjoy lunch outside while they are exploring everything the museum has to offer.
There are spaces both in the museum and the ground surrounding for small meetings, family reunions, weddings, fishing and archery practice.
How to get there
The museum is located 3.5 miles west of Craig in a large tan building just off U.S. Highway 40. The sign for the turn-off is on the south side of the road. Once you turn at the sign, you will see historic structures and automobiles lining the driveway up to the museum.
There are small gifts and memorabilia available for purchase from the museum, and during the busy season there may be popcorn available from a collectible popcorn machine. You may want to pack some snacks and plan to stay for a couple of hours.
Being a good visitor
Museum admission is free to the public, and donations are accepted but not required. Roberson said they run entirely off donations and support from the community in order to keep admission free for everyone. Take a moment to sign in near the entrance so museum staff can keep track of the number of visitors they receive.
The museum is very family friendly, and there are several sections for children to learn experientially. Throughout the museum, there are signs posted with instructions for how to best appreciate the pieces. Many of the items are fragile or have been carefully restored, so in some cases it’s posted to not touch or climb on displays. But it’s not the kind of museum where everything is behind a case.
“This is a living history museum, so you get to experience it,” Roberson said.
If you are curious about a specific item, make sure to ask members of the staff. They have a wealth of knowledge about every piece in the museum. Each item has gone through a “sessioning” where it is carefully documented, researched and cataloged.
“Everything has a story,” Roberson said. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone, if we don’t keep it.”
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