Left to Right: Conejos County Commissioner Mitchell Jarvis, Tori Martinez, Emma Roybal, State Representative Donald Valdez

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the reopening of the Conejos County Museum was held on May 11th, 2018 by Tori Martinez, Executive Director for the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. Mitchell Jarvis, Conejos County Commissioner and Board Member for SdCNHA held one side of the ribbon while Colorado State Representative Donald Valdez, former board member for SdCNHA, held the other. Emma Roybal, board member for SdCNHA  assisted.

The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area now houses its second office in the Conejos County Museum, which is open Tuesdays and Fridays from 9am-4pm. One staff member has been hired through the Colorado Works STEP program which helps to subsidise employment for those who qualify for the TANF program. It is a pilot project through the social services offices of Conejos and Rio Grande Counties.

The reopening will offer travelers an information center on the southern end of the San Luis Valley. “We will have a place where people can stop and they can find out about the stories that we know and the stories that make us who were are and make this area great to be in.” said Conejos County Commissioner Mitchell Jarvis.

The museum houses several exhibitions about settlement and life in Conejos County and the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. There are items on loan from Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve and from the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad. There is also a collection of resource materials and SdCNHA’s Oral Histories Collection.“The history is rich here. It’s special. No where else in the world do we have heritage and cultures like we find in the San Luis Valley and we need to tell those stories.” stated State Representative Donald Valdez.

Tori Martinez gave thanks to all that made the reopening of the museum possible including staff and donors. Many volunteers helped cleaned up the exterior of the building, resurface the floors, painted the exterior and interior and created signage for the museums exhibits. Andrew Armenta Jr. from Red Hill Lava Products donated lava rock to surround the building. Mike Roque donated a Television to the museum, so the over 100 interviews from SdCNHA’s Voices of the Valley Project can be viewed by visitors. Cafe del Valle donated pinon coffee and baked goods for the opening and Rita Martinez made biscochitos. North River Greenhouse donated some beautiful flowers for the museum entrance as well. SLV Museum Association assisted in preparation for the museum opening and will continue to assist, as the Conejos Museum is a member of the association.

Some exhibits will be expanded upon in the near future. If you’d like to make a donation to assist in that effort please contact the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area for more information at info@sdcnha.org or visit the website at www.sdcnha.org.