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Celebrate Colorado’s 144th Birthday with Free Museums and More

When History Colorado is in charge of the festivities, there are endless ways to celebrate the Centennial State’s big day on August 1.

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You know that friend who constantly reminds you it’s their “birthday month?” Colorado’s a little bit like that friend. Technically, the Centennial State’s birthday isn’t until Saturday, August 1, but there are many ways to celebrate in the days leading up to the big day—which includes free admission to all eight of History Colorado’s museums. 

Start off the festivities with Colorado Spirit Week, where you can respond to daily prompts on Instagram and Facebook pertaining to Colorado themes. On the third day of Spirit Week, July 29, you can learn how to create yucca paintbrushes in a special edition of Hands-On History @ Home. All you’ll need is one yucca spear (you can find these throughout Colorado’s hillsides and foothills), a rock, a piece of paper, two small cups of water, watercolor paints, and access to Zoom.

Before the big day (August 1), reserve your ticket for free admission to History Colorado’s museums on August 1 (capacity varies for each museum in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions). For a full list of museums, go here. At the History Colorado Center in Denver, discover four floors of interactive exhibits, including critically acclaimed art exhibit Hecho en Colorado, which showcases historically significant works by Colorado’s Chicano/Mexican American community. Don’t miss the last weekend of the Beer Here! Brewing the New West exhibit, which documents Colorado’s cultural and economic moments through the evolution of its beer. There’s also the John Denver Experience, an exhibit combining John Denver songs, nature sounds, a sunshine room, photographs, and concert footage.

If you’d rather stay home, you can attend Colorado’s virtual birthday party in collaboration with Emily Hope Dobkin of Betterish. In non-pandemic times, Dobkin’s Meet Cart helps strangers on the street start talking to each other. Dobkin has adapted the cart to the times, bringing strangers together online in imaginative ways.

Here’s how the virtual party works: Arrive on Zoom with 10 pieces of scrap paper (cut in four inch by four inch pieces) and a pen or marker (bonus points if you dress up!). You’ll break off into groups and get to know others while answering Colorado-themed prompts—which are currently a secret. 

“I hear that it’s quite rapid-fire and a fun, really upbeat experience. Something that helps us combat this sort of online fatigue that we all have. So, yes, it’s on a computer, but no, it won’t feel like a webinar or a lecture,” says John Eding, communications manager of History Colorado. 

Don’t like living on a schedule? Download countless templates for Colorado-themed crafts all week long, no alarm clock or planner needed. (Think: Stegosaurus and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep lanterns). You can also relax on the couch and watch the six videos on History Colorado’s YouTube Colorado Day Playlist, which bring viewers to some of Colorado’s most beautiful places and on some of its best activities, like a virtual mountain bike ride in Buena Vista.

If you’re itching for a little more adventure, you can also celebrate Colorado Day by going outside and taking advantage of Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s free admission to Colorado State Parks on Saturday. 

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