experience HISTORY

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Explore Our Exhibits

In our permanent exhibits, we primarily explore our mining, ranching and recreation history after the incorporation of Crested Butte in 1880.  You’ll learn about the immigrants of past generations that created a home in the mountains at the end of the road. 

The museum recognizes that the mining and ranching community that was established at the end of the 1800s was at the expense of the Uncompahgre Ute and Tabeguache Ute who were forcibly removed from this area through the Brunot Treaty. We hope that you will take time to visit our neighbor, the Ute Museum, located in Montrose, Colorado, with exhibits developed in partnership with the Ute tribes by History Colorado.  While we could never do this history justice, we do include information about paleo-indians of the Gunnison Valley, the Ute People, the Brunot Treaty and the Los Pinos Indian Agency. The Crested Butte Museum knows that we have a great responsibility in representing many stories from our history. We will continue to listen to those voices in an attempt to understand the history of all people. 

Permanent Exhibits

History of Coal Mining

Have you heard of a canary in a coal mine? During the late 19th century, thousands of men flocked to the Gunnison Valley, hoping to strike it rich in the mines. Crested Butte originally served as a supply town for over 15 silver mining camps that sprung up in the north end of the Valley.

mountain biking history

Did Mountain Biking start in Crested Butte?  That’s a question we don’t mind hearing! We are proud to highlight the history of mountain biking in and around Crested Butte with our exhibit about the development and growth of this enormously popular sport.

history of skiing

Winter came hard in the Gunnison Valley. Early residents said that “This is God’s Country but He doesn’t live here in the winter.” For those who did, skis were the only reliable means of transportation for several months of the year.

Model Town & Railroad

The Train Exhibit is continually evolving and is a major draw for visitors of all ages. The backdrop is a realistic mural painted by Susan Anderton depicting the bench on Gibson’s Ridge including the Colorado Fuel and Iron buildings. Dedicated volunteers, including Tom Bielefeld and Dave Watkins, have spent thousands of hours scratch building replicas of Crested Butte’s structures and scenery from the 1920s.

Current Featured Exhibits

Veterans of the Gunnison Country: Heroes & Neighbors:

The lives and service of our locaal veterans. Told through photographs, family heirlooms, short stories and other objects.

Conversations on Elk Avenue

Crested Butte has a rich history, which is driven by the personal stories of this community. Hearing about people’s experiences and memories first-hand bridges a gap between the past and present, bringing personal memories to life.
Membership early access: Click HERE!

Hidden Histories: Exploring BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Past, Present, and Future in the Gunnison Valley and Beyond

This BIPOC project was made possible thanks to a grant given by the town of Crested Butte.  The project resulted in a paper titled- “Hidden Histories: Exploring BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Past, Present, and Future in the Gunnison Valley and Beyond.”  First, it covers the history of racism in Colorado and why we must learn about it, especially in small mountain towns, so we don’t forget and so that it does not happen again.

It also highlights ways to support our BIPOC community by bringing attention to ​local ​Melanin Mountain Project and other​ Colorado​ organizations​ with the hope that we can ​generate more fundraising ​and offer a platform.

Click Here to Read the Full Report

Past Featured Exhibits

Food & Drink at 9000': Community, Resistance & Tradition

Food & Drink at 9000′ brings to light the hardships and achievements of the original immigrants to Crested Butte, early hunting and fishing culture, Crested Butte’s own soda bottling works, and the beginning of a dynamic and diverse food and beverage culture in Crested Butte. We hope that this exhibit will bring back fond memories for those who were lucky enough to have drinks at the Rozman/Rozich Saloon, dinner at The Vineyard, or stopping by Stefanics for a snack. Elk Avenue and Crested Butte might look different, but our restaurants and bars have deep roots within the fabric of this community. Between the photos, stories, and artifacts, we hope you enjoy learning about the resilience of our Crested Buttians over time, the community that has been created, and how tradition is still felt in the culture of the food and beverage industry in Crested Butte. 

Dropping Out: Crested Butte in the 1970's

Crested Butte in the 1970s laid the framework for the community we know today. In this decade, there was an explosion of creativity, proliferation of new activities and sports, and a political takeover. This was a riotous time, establishing some of our most loved traditions and sense of community character.

1960's Crested Butte: Coming Together

This exhibit explores the era between 1955 and 1970 representing the economic and social change of the time through historic newspapers, objects, artwork, and photographs representative of these years. The exhibit delves into the conditions that allowed for an entire town to become a cultural experiment as the community worked together to prevent Crested Butte from becoming a ghost town.

Set in a bar-like scene, Crested Butte 1960s Counterculture: Coming Together focuses on the local places where an established community of retired coal miners and incoming 20 somethings creating relationships that would inspire the revitalization of an end of the road ghost town. These seemingly opposite communities continue to inspire the town of Crested Butte today.

Museum at Home

The Crested Butte Museum has a vast collection of photographs, stories, and artifacts from our vibrant community.  We’ve created a digital library so you can experience the Crested Butte museum from home.  Click to view some of our digital exhibits, oral histories, first accounts, photograph collections, and digitized artifacts.

Museum Membership


Museum members are a crucial part of helping preserve and share the history of Crested Butte and the Gunnison Valley.  Members benefit from free entry to our rotating exhibits, 10% off all store purchases, discounted event tickets, and other exclusive benefits.

“An incredible resource that truly explores the full history of the valley”  “Another Crested Butte Gem” 
“Fantastic place to spend an hour or so – great exhibits and lovely historic diorama of the town.  Definitely check it out!”
-Guests of the Museum-

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