Recently, I was in Denver, Colorado for a wedding and had the opportunity to visit two museums with radically different ideological projects: The Black American West Museum and the Denver Art Museum. It was interesting to have the opportunity to view these museums both on the same day and also with a group of lay people (my family), who had never thought about the role of museums in constructing a particular sense of history.
The Black American West Museum was founded in 1971 by Paul Wilbur Stewart, and developed out of his personal mission to uncover the history of black cowboys. He began simply by speaking to patrons at his Denver barbershop, who began to bring him memorabilia and family photos, which he kept on display. Once his collection out grew his barbershop, he established the museum by fusing his project with the project of commemorating the life of the first African-American female physician licensed in Colorado, Dr. Justina Ford.