On September 20, 2014, the History Colorado Center brought the traveling exhibit RACE: Are We So Different? to Denver for three months. The exhibit was an opportunity to bring together the many community organizations in Denver dedicated to promoting racial equality and to create a safe space for meaningful conversation about this emotional topic. Hosting the exhibit allowed History Colorado to build significantly on the civic engagement programming that has become a priority for the institution and explore new diverse partnerships.
This exhibit was extremely timely: it coincided with the tragic incidents in Ferguson and on Long Island, and the City of Denver quickly identified the History Colorado Center as a safe space for students, parents, community leaders, public safety officers, faith-based organizations, and politicians to discuss, to listen, to heal, and to create actionable steps for change. History Colorado took an exhibit that was directly relevant to its audience and nation at that historical moment, and used it as a vehicle to engage the entire community in civil dialogue about tough but essential subjects.
Programs were geared to several different audiences and included an educators’ open house, Race Forum dialogues, lectures, film screenings, discussion circles, and a workshop for adoptive and interracial families on discussing race with children. More than 3,900 students from 65 schools and other organizations came to see RACE, and secondary school visitation more than doubled. Nearly 2,100 people attended public programs, and general visitation rose 14.5%, from a notably more diverse population. Many visitors had never been to the Center before, and left with changed ideas of what a museum could do in their community.