Golden History Museum meets fundraising goal to offer free admission in 2020

Museum attendance increased 300 percent in first year offering free admission

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 12/31/19

Those looking for something fun and free to do in the new year might want to consider the Golden History Museum, which will again be offering free admission next year thanks to the generosity of more …

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Golden History Museum meets fundraising goal to offer free admission in 2020

Museum attendance increased 300 percent in first year offering free admission

Posted

Those looking for something fun and free to do in the new year might want to consider the Golden History Museum, which will again be offering free admission next year thanks to the generosity of more than 300 private donors.

On Dec. 11, the museum announced its 2019 year-end campaign had raised around 11,000 from those donors, enough to trigger a matching contribution in memory of longtime supporter Carol McMurray and allow the museum to again offer free admission to all visitors in 2020.

“We don’t want the cost of admission to be a barrier, so we are delighted to again open our doors next year for all visitors,” said Nathan Richie, the museum’s director.

The museum first undertook a campaign to fundraise donations to allow admission to the museum to be free and was able to offer free admission in 2019 as a result.

Doug Skiba, the museum’s development and communications coordinator, said the museum first decided to fundraise to allow for free admission to the museum because its staff had determined that the cost of admission was preventing visitors from going there.

“People used to walk in and take a look around at our small museum and they would make a judgement based on what they saw in the lobby which is admittedly a little bit sparse and you have to get back into the galleries to see what we have,” he said. “More often than not people would turn around and walk out.”

But that tendency changed in a big way when the museum began offering free admission and attendance increased by 300 percent over the previous year, surpassing the museum’s previous attendance record.

To track where the museum’s visitors are coming from, staff now ask them to provide their zip code upon entering the museum.

While many of those visiting the museum are tourists, Skiba said many Golden residents who have lived in the community for “10, 15, even 20 years” also made their first visit to the museum last year.

“It’s been pretty astounding to use to be getting a considerable number of visits from people who live here and were completely aware of us but have never been that were now coming in because we removed this barrier,” Skiba said.

Among the Goldenites drawn to the museum for the first time in 2019 was Syd Slouka, who visited with her sister, Tatia, two days before Christmas.

“We wouldn’t have come today if it wasn’t free,” said Syd, who frequently passes by the museum. “We just heard it was free and we were like hey we should go check it out because we can and we are here.”

Syd and Tatia said they were enjoying their visit to the museum and particularly appreciated seeing the old photos and realizing how much things had changed.

Skiba said that in addition to the free admission, recent renovations the museum underwent, including a refresh of some its exhibition cases with new exhibits and the addition of the Touch Gallery celebrating Golden’s culinary history had also played a role in drawing more people to the museum.

Donations to the museum can be made in-person, by phone and on the website. The museum also sells household memberships that start at $75 and include access to special programs and events.

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