Fort Garland Museum receives reaccreditation

Courier photo by John Waters The Fort Garland Museum and Cultural Center has been reaccredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

FORT GARLAND — History Colorado and its six venues, including the Fort Garland Museum and Cultural Center have been reaccredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

The prestigious distinction is made to only about three percent of museums nationally, and History Colorado has been accredited since 1972.

In a statement History Colorado said, "This is a recognition that we welcome as an affirmation of our community-centered work, our award-winning exhibitions, and diverse educational programming."

The fort was built as a U.S. Army base in 1858 and was a military post until 1883. Kit Carson became the commander of the fort in 1866. In the 1920s, a proposed demolition of the fort spurred the creation of the Fort Garland Historical Fair Association in 1924 to preserve the historic site. After the Colorado Historical Society (now History Colorado) and the National Park Service rebuffed offers to assume control of the fort, local fundraising enabled the association to buy it in 1929.

The fort changed hands in 1945 when the Colorado Historical Association bought it and the remaining five original structures and began restoration. In 1950 the site opened as a museum.

In a 2015 interview with Rocky Mountain PBS, Jack Rudder, Adjutant with the Fort Garland Memorial Regiment described the importance of the fort in the Valley with this, "A lot of settlements in the area began with FG. Without the Fort, perhaps nothing would have been here."

In recent years the museum has hosted several outstanding exhibits. In 2021, Unsilienced: Indigenous Enslavement in Southern Colorado drew national attention including a feature article in the New York Times.

The Buffalo Soldier's reVision exhibit that ended recently, told the story of formally enslaved black men who served in the army at Fort Garland in all Black Army regiments and were stationed there from 1875 to 1879.

Currently, ¡Viva La Causa! Long Live the Cause! is on display and highlights artwork created at the peak of two social justice movements: the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and ʼ70s and the Black Lives Matter movement in the early 2020s to explore themes of identity and empowerment in Colorado. The exhibit runs through May 27.

The Fort Garland Museum and Cultural Center is located at 29477 CO-159 and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 719-379-3512, for more information.