It’s been a decade since the Colorado History Museum, the state’s pre-eminent repository of the past, became the History Colorado Center, a rebranding officially capped off with the opening of the nonprofit’s giant, $111 million center on Broadway in Denver. Another significant part of the organization’s transformation was a renewed focus on fleshing out its permanent collection to better reflect the state’s diversity. To that end, History Colorado has accepted some 1,201 donations since April 2012. Here are some of the most remarkable additions.

1. On The Blink

Blinky the Clown—aka Russell Scott—entertained and educated on the local Blinky’s Fun Club show wearing his trademark tartan blazer for more than 40 years, making him TV’s longest-running clown.

2. Scenes From A Protest

Along with used tear gas grenades, rubber bullets, and spray paint canisters, History Colorado staff collected posters after the first Denver demonstration against the murder of George Floyd.

3. Tip Of The Hat

Pink beanies became a symbol of 2017’s Women’s March on Denver after thousands of people wore handmade versions as part of a protest against the presidential election of Donald Trump, who infamously used the term “pussy” in an offensive manner during an Access Hollywood taping in 2005. The nationwide demonstrations were some of the largest in the country’s history.

4. The Masked Governor

It’s likely most Coloradans have already seen this artifact: Governor Jared Polis wore it often during the early days of the pandemic, including at the April 2020 press conference where he first urged “all Coloradans to wear masks when outside of home.”

5. Blueprints For Change

History Colorado owns blueprints drafted by Colorado’s first licensed Black architect, John Henderson, who designed Denver’s Byron Rogers Federal Building and his own midcentury modern home in Skyland, which was designated a local historical landmark in 2018.

6. The Hate You Take Away

The papers of Linda Fowler, a champion of women’s and LGBTQ rights and one of the plaintiffs in Romer v. Evans, reside in History Colorado’s collection. The lawsuit challenged Amendment 2, a 1992 voter initiative that banned anti-discrimination laws for gay people and earned Colorado the moniker “the hate state.” The U.S. Supreme Court struck the amendment down as unconstitutional.

7. Smoke Show

This water bong was one of only 30 made by now-defunct Heady Glass Studios to commemorate the 2014 Denver County Fair’s Pot Pavilion, erected less than a month after the state legalized the sale of recreational cannabis.

This article was originally published in 5280 April 2022.

Nicholas Hunt
Nicholas Hunt

Nicholas writes and edits the Compass, Adventure, and Culture sections of 5280 and writes for 5280.com.