Beginning June 1, the CU Heritage Center will close as staff look ahead to the Old Main preservation project that is scheduled to begin at the beginning of 2024.
The exterior restoration of Old Main, which is still in the design phase and pending CU Board of Regents approval later this year, will primarily include exterior wall and window repairs and site stormwater management improvements. Anticipated re-opening of the Heritage Center is slated for 2026, the university’s sesquicentennial year.
The Heritage Center is home to 40,000 artifacts, some of which include loans from departments around campus, NASA and the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. One of the most time-consuming tasks leading up to the closure of Old Main is to inventory, pack and safely move the entire collection to storage on East Campus before December. Due to dust and debris that may become dislodged during the restoration process, everything needs to be removed for safety and security purposes.
“It’s a massive undertaking but we need to ensure everything is protected,” said Heritage Center director Allyson Smith.
During the closure of Old Main, most of the museum exhibits will be disassembled and none will be accessible by the public. Behind the scenes museum staff will work on organizing and digitizing the collections for a future online catalog. Researchers will be able to make appointments to access artifacts starting Jan. 2, 2024, by emailing Mona Lambrecht, Heritage Center curator.
Heritage Center staff will be creating new exhibits by continuing to look at CU Boulder within a broader global context, incorporating more diversity, equity and inclusion elements and shedding light on historically marginalized communities on campus, an effort that has already been underway. The CU Making a Difference gallery currently includes numerous women and people of color based on articles from The Coloradan alumni magazine. The Heritage Center also includes an exhibit looking at the Japanese American experience during WWII. And the popular LEGO exhibit had 380 figures’ skin, hair and other visual elements swapped to represent the demographics of the campus’s population.
“The LEGO model of campus is our most popular exhibit, but it can’t be moved,” said Smith. “It will be covered during the restoration to prevent dust from getting inside. Our community can rest assured that the LEGOs will be back.”