Museum of Northwest Colorado: Collection transfers from museum to local college |

Museum of Northwest Colorado: Collection transfers from museum to local college

Mary Pat Dunn, Museum of Northwest Colorado Registrar
Colorado Northwestern Community College geology instructor Liz Johnson stands with her class in front of the newly acquired rock collection that was transferred to the college from the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

In the early 1960s the Museum of Northwest Colorado was in its first years of existence and was known at that point as the Moffat County Museum. The first board members were desperate to make a good showing with their exhibits and were always on the lookout for artifacts to display.

The local Gem and Rock Club was comprised at that time of a very active group of members, and they were generous in making a significant contribution to the museum in the form of fossils, rocks and gems. For a number of years this rock collection easily filled over a quarter of the museum exhibit space at the courthouse and was enjoyed by thousands of visitors. When the museum made its move to the current downtown location in the early 1990s the museum was unable to continue showing the extensive rock collection due to floor space.

The Museum of Northwest Colorado recently has been assessing its storage and exhibition space for future planning, and found that a large number of rock, sediment and fossil specimens within the collections that no longer fit in with the role of the museum and its mission. There were hundreds of specimens and samples in the rock collection — many of which were outstanding in their class.

Museum board member David Johnson, who is an instructor of history at Colorado Northwestern College in Craig, suggested that the rock collection might benefit the college science department. Johnson felt that such a transfer would honor the intent of those early generous donors who wanted their donations to benefit our local community. The museum board agreed, and Johnson moved forward with inquiries to see if the school would be able to use the rocks in an educational setting. Liz Johnson, instructor of geology at the college, was elated at the prospect of having such an extensive collection at her fingertips. As soon as the board approved the transition, Johnson quickly made arrangements for getting the heavy boxes containing the bulky collection moved up to the college. In turn, Liz Johnson lost no time in utilizing the collection for hands-on work in the classroom setting.

The transfer of the rock collection from the Museum of Northwest Colorado to CNCC typifies the manner of collaboration between entities that can reap strong benefits for our community. Local students will now have an immense assortment of geological specimens to study in their classes, and the museum will have fulfilled its mission to preserve local history and still honor those early donors who helped establish the museum, thereby helping it become what it is today.

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