Essential Guide to the Black American West Museum in Denver
Dedicated to black Americans’ efforts in the expansion west, the Black American West Museum in Denver offers a rare opportunity to learn.
Often overlooked, black cowboys were a prominent feature in the early days of Western America.
History of the Black American West Museum
The Black American West Museum was founded in 1971 by Paul W. Stewart, a barber-turned-historian from Iowa. Stewart had relocated to Colorado, opened a barbershop, and began collecting artifacts, photos, and other documents from the 19th century with the help of his clients.
A talented storyteller, his passion for history shined through. He eventually amassed an impressive collection, now on display in the museum, and established the Black American West Museum.
Unfortunately, Stewart passed away in 2015 at the age of 89. He was survived by his wife, who described him as a dedicated family man and avid learner.
The site of the Black American West Museum also has cultural significance for Colorado. The house was originally the one that Dr. Justina Ford practiced in. Dr. Ford was the first licensed black female doctor in Colorado. Her practice catered to individuals that would otherwise not have access to healthcare, and she is known to have delivered almost 7,000 babies during her time as a doctor.
What You’ll Discover at the Black American West Museum
The Black American West Museum is a monument to black settlers, cowboys, and other individuals that helped move the United States west. Like most museums, this one is packed with impressive artifacts telling the story of the West.
The walk to the entrance is even filled with history! The museum created a “Black Cowboys Walk of Fame” that features plaques dedicated to black cowboys throughout history.
Inside, visitors will find a collection of artifacts, clothing, and photographs that show the rich history of black Americans in the West. Visitors say that they learned more on their visit to the museum than they ever did from history books.
There is also a room dedicated to Dr. Ford and her practice. It is a recreation of what her office looked like and featured her actual tools and other medical equipment.
Museum staff is knowledgeable and can answer any questions or provide general knowledge.
The Black American West Museum offers educational opportunities to students at the request of their instructors. Many visitors have remarked that they thought a school visit should be a must! These tours are available via requests and can be customized to fit student needs.
While the museum is generally self-guided for visitors, anyone interested can contact the museum to find out about being led on a walking tour that also discusses Denver’s Five Points neighborhood’s rich history. The museum asks that guests call 720-242-7428 to schedule the opportunities in advance.
The museum also hosts reenactments through the Jane Taylor Reenactor Guild. Jane Taylor founded this in the 1990s. Taylor was a former teacher with a passion for history.
The reenactors meet once a month and focus on the 1800-1900s. They are always looking for apprentices and actors to join! Be sure to contact the museum for more information.
The Black American West Museum is located at 3091 California St. in Denver. There is a Light Rail station nearby. For those interested in driving, visitors report plenty of parking in front of the museum.
The museum is run with support from local volunteers and is only open two days a week. On Friday and Saturday, the museum’s hours are 10 AM to 2 PM. They are closed on Sunday.
Admission into the Black American West Museum is:
- $10 for adults
- $9 for seniors
- $8 for students (12+)
- $7 for children (6-11)
Children five and under are free.
For locals looking to be involved in their community, the Black American West Museum is always looking for volunteers to help run the museum.
There is also a small gift shop. The proceeds go towards the museum’s costs.
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