Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Art Museum opens today with a goal of rounding out the cultural experiences in Steamboat Springs.
"We've got Strings in the Mountains, Emerald City Opera, Steamboat Springs Orchestra, theater and dance," said Rod Hanna, one of the museum's board members. "The one part that is missing is a visual arts museum."
The museum will help make Steamboat more of an art destination and attract cultural tourism, Hanna said.
"The whole focus is creating interest in what has occurred here artistically over the last 100 years or longer, and even now," Hanna said. "People are going to be amazed, impressed and surprised at what kind of art has been and is being created in Northwest Colorado."
The museum's board of directors has developed high expectations and goals for the direction of the museum, he said. The board already has established a relationship with the Denver Art Museum and plans to build a permanent art collection that can travel on loan to other museums. The board also will create an educational program and house an extensive art research library.
"People with significant collections of art books are loaning or giving them to the museum, and we plan to purchase some as well," Hanna said. "The idea is to eventually end up with a significant art library where people can come in and do research."
The museum's first exhibit showcases the diversity of art in the past and present in Northwest Colorado, said museum board secretary Shirley Stocks.
"There will be marbled sculpture, jewelry, pastels, bronze sculpture, water colors, oils, photographs, ceramics, turned wooden vessels and etchings," she said.
Stocks is particularly excited about a painting on display from well-known Taos, N.M., artist Ida McAfee.
"Way back when, she did a one-person show at the Depot (Art Center) in 1989," Stocks said. "She got connected to this area back when Ferry Carpenter saw one of her paintings in a bank in Gunnison."
The museum also will exhibit two paintings by Helen Rehder, a long-time Steamboat Springs resident who donated the building that houses the museum to the city.
"She donated it with hopes of it becoming a museum," Hanna said. "She was also an aspiring artist."
The museum's hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Museum officials are seeking volunteers willing to work two- and four-hour shifts.
"The volunteers are needed to host the museum, talk to people about the artwork and pass out information on becoming a member or volunteer for the museum," Hanna said. "We are also looking for a staff member to coordinate all of this, and open and close the door."
Although the museum was incorporated one year ago, museum organizers weren't able to get into the building until last week, and they had less than two days to set up the first exhibit.
"We've been really rushing it, but the reason is to try to have some kind of presence here in time for the holidays," Hanna said. "Residents, visitors and part-time visitors are here this time of year, and we want them to know how excited we are about the opportunity presented by Helen Rehder and the city of Steamboat Springs."
The museum will continue to be a work in progress.
"As soon as we feel like we got this thing put together, we can plan a nice opening and gala," Hanna said. "Hopefully that will be at the end of January."