Culture & History Fact Sheet


Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum

Located in the heart of downtown on Crested Butte’s Elk Avenue, this unique museum focuses on the mining, ranching, skiing, and other unique history of the East River Valley, particularly Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte.  The structure was built in 1883 and housed the town’s blacksmith shop and the first gas pump (1911). Fondly referred to as Tony’s Conoco, Tony Mihelich became a partner in the store in 1940 and ran it as Crested Butte Hardware and Auto Supply until his death in 1996.

Walking through the museum’s front door is like stepping back into an old-fashioned hardware store. A large gift shop and memorabilia from Tony’s occupy the front, while a model train display that depicts Crested Butte and interesting exhibits about mining, ranching, skiing, biking and other local history draw visitors to the back. The museum also hosts speakers and various programs throughout the year and offers historic walking tours. For more information and hours, contact Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum, (970) 349-1880 or visit www.crestedbuttemuseum.com.

Pioneer Museum, Gunnison

The Gunnison County Historical Society was established in 1905, reorganizing and becoming the Gunnison Pioneer and Historical Society in 1930. In 1964, Pioneer Museum opened with Old Main as its first building. Today, the museum grounds feature more than 25 historic buildings along with a large collection of artifacts and memorabilia that represent the cultural history and heritage of Gunnison County. Museum highlights include Gunnison’s first post office (1876); a D & RG Narrow Gauge train (engine, flanger, gondola, boxcar, livestock car and caboose), water tank and depot; two rural school houses; a house with early-day furnishings; the Andy Mallett Antique Car Museum; a log cabin chapel; authentic barn with ranch displays; arrowhead and mineral collection; carpenter shop; blacksmith shop; print shop; and much more.

In 2010, the Denver Posse selected the Pioneer Museum as the recipient of its Fred A. Rosenstock Award for Outstanding Contributions to Colorado History. The museum, located near Jorgenson Park on Highway 50, is typically open Memorial Day weekend through the end of September from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Saturday, and 1 – 5 p.m., Sunday. For more information, visit www.gunnisonpioneermuseum.com and call (970) 641-0155.

The Trailhead Children’s Museum, Mt. Crested Butte

The Trailhead Children’s Museum offers hands-on exhibits and programs in the arts, sciences and creative play and is conveniently located at the ski area base in Mt. Crested Butte.  There are several special events and school break camps along with Night at the Museum, Kids Create, Little Innovators, Mini Innovators, Exploration Station and Letter of the Week offered regularly. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Check www.trailheadkids.org for special events and happenings or call (970) 349-7160.


Center for the Arts Crested Butte

Upon entering town, Center for the Arts is the colorful landmark with the adjacent Town Park that welcomes locals and visitors. The 6,600-square-foot facility houses a 215-seat auditorium with stage, spacious lobby, art galleries and offices. There is no cost to view the regularly changing art exhibitions.  An outdoor stage, located next to Town Park, allows the Center to present free Alpenglow concert series each summer.

The Center is used as a venue by many organizations such as Crested Butte Dance Collective, Crested Butte School of Dance and Crested Butte Music Festival. The Center also books, promotes and sells tickets to its own signature events such as the “Center Productions” and “Winter Season” series.  A separate visual arts annex on Elk Avenue houses the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts, where classes, workshops, private lessons, paint-your-own-pottery, shared artist’s space, a ceramics studio, rental space for art parties and events, and an art gallery are available.

Fund-raisers such as Crested Butte Wine & Food Festival in July and the Tour de Forks gourmet dining series from June to September help make the Center a reality and are favorite culinary happenings in the valley.  For more information, tickets and workshop sign-ups, call (970) 349-7487 and visit www.crestedbuttearts.org.

Gunnison Arts Center

Gunnison Arts Center (GAC), located in a two-story historic stone building on a prominent corner in
downtown Gunnison, is a community arts center dedicated to highlighting, showcasing and developing artists and audiences within the community.

GAC has three gallery spaces, a 70-seat theatre, clay center, dance studio, and reception space. Among the many programs offered by GAC are rotating art exhibitions, visual arts classes for adults and children, dance classes, free weekly “Sundays @ 6” summer concerts at Legion Park, community theatre, and various concerts and fund-raising events throughout the year. The literary arts also are supported by GAC with a Writers’ Group and Book Talk group that meet regularly.  Also stop by and browse the gift shop that is filled with creations by area artists.

For more information, ticket reservations and class sign-ups, contact Gunnison Arts Center at (970) 641-4029 or visit www.GunnisonArtsCenter.org.


Crested Butte Mountain Theatre

Crested Butte Mountain Theatre was established in 1972 by an energetic, talented group of people who envisioned Crested Butte tapping some of its own culture. Located in the 1880s-era Old Town Hall along with The Paragon Gallery artists’ cooperative, Crested Butte Mountain Theatre performs a majority of its productions there in the Mallardi Cabaret Theatre. Crested Butte Mountain Theatre has produced more than 200 plays and involves youth through its Arts in Education Program.

For a performance schedule, more information and tickets, contact Crested Butte Mountain
Theatre at (970) 349-0366 or visit www.cbmountaintheatre.org.


Gunnison Valley Observatory

Located in Gunnison, the Gunnison Valley Observatory has the largest research quality telescope available to the public in Colorado. In June 2008, the observatory began welcoming children, students, adults and groups interested in astronomy. GVO is now open to the public on Friday and Saturday nights from mid-June to mid-September and features public viewing on the 30-inch scope, a lecture on a variety of astronomy related topics, viewing through a variety of smaller telescopes and occasional special events.

Located off Gold Basin Road at the base of “W” Mountain, just southwest of Gunnison on U.S.
Highway 50, the observatory features a distinctive dome to house the telescope atop an 800-square-foot building that includes a classroom and star wall. In 2011, the Ted Violett Memorial Observatory was constructed and currently houses a 10-inch Celestron scope equipped with a digital camera.  The goal is to add a high-quality scope and state-of-the-art video system to show real-time video to groups, engage in astrophotography and support more sophisticated research.

Located at an elevation of 7,703 feet and with air and light pollution almost nonexistent, Gunnison has near-perfect stargazing conditions. For more information about the Gunnison Valley Observatory visit www.gunnisonobservatory.org or call (970) 641-0634.

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