Tales from the Tread: Museum curator celebrates 15 years | SteamboatToday.com

Tales from the Tread: Museum curator celebrates 15 years

Tread of Pioneers Museum
Tread of Pioneers Museum Curator and Collections Manager Katie Adams working in collections. Adams is celebrating 15 years with the museum.
Tread of Pioneers Museum/Courtesy Photo

Editor’s note: This Q&A was edited for clarity and brevity.

The Tread of Pioneers Museum is thrilled to announce and congratulate Curator and Collections Manager Katie Adams, who celebrates 15 years of service to the museum and the community.

Adams’ experience and dedication to the museum and our local heritage are extraordinary. She has built her skill set in archives management, research, exhibit writing and design, curatorial methods, preservation and much more.

Her knowledge of local history and the community elevates the museum and the value of heritage in our town. She also chairs the Historic Preservation Commission for Steamboat Springs.

To celebrate this significant milestone, the Steamboat Pilot & Today interviewed Adams to get her view of her career and working in local history.

Steamboat Pilot & Today: You have family ties to Steamboat Springs, that deepens your appreciation of our local history. Can you tell us about this?

Adams: My grandparents followed extended family to the Yampa Valley in the 1940s. Norm and Alice Buchanan managed ranches in the Elk River Valley for 20 years. My grandfather was a rancher and horseman to his core, a wonderful trait that his sons embody still today.

In the late 1960s they moved into town and purchased the motel called Rainbow Cottages on Oak and Seventh streets. Here, my mom, the youngest of eight children, attended high school and lived for several years. Though I was raised in Wyoming, we took frequent visits back to Steamboat to visit my mom’s family.

Q: How did you make your way back to Steamboat Springs?

Adams: I came to Steamboat Springs in 2005 to ‘just stay a couple of months’ in the winter and stay with family. One day I visited the Tread of Pioneers Museum, and knew I wanted to help in any way I could, if that meant I could come inside and be a part of the place. About a year later, I noticed a job posting at the museum for the curatorial position, and applied. It’s been my (work place) home since.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about working in local history?

Adams: Being the keeper of our community’s artifacts is a wonderful feeling and honor. I love helping people find their history and roots, and assisting them as they piece their story together using primary resources. Listening to stories of the people who lived it, hearing what it was like growing up here, and knowing how and why each place was named, makes you feel rooted and connected. It’s an amazing place to live, and I am so fortunate to work with the most lovely people who share my passion and enthusiasm for safe-guarding and sharing this history.

Q: What was your favorite exhibit you created?

Adams: We have done many fun and interesting exhibits over the years! I really enjoy the “Foundations of Steamboat” series where I get to deep dive into a family’s history and detail how they have made an impact on our community. We also did a three-part exhibit series called “Journeys West,” which covered Westward expansion, how pioneers traveled here, what routes they took and their experiences on the journeys, how they secured a homestead, and the beginnings of building the towns in Northwest Colorado. That whole series was my favorite.

Q: What are some highlights of your career?

Adams: A highlight of my career was the 2013 successful remodel and expansion of the museum that included new exhibits and a 3,600-square-foot, museum-quality collections care facility (for our artifacts and archives). For a museum and town of this size, we are so fortunate to have a facility of this caliber with professionally trained staff who are committed to providing the best care and environment for our community’s treasured artifacts.

Candice Bannister (museum executive director since 2003) and I have the freedom and ability to dream, vision and lead. She has helped set the pace for our growth and outreach, and our programs and ideas grow each year under her drive and foresight. I am grateful to be a part of this team.

Tread of Pioneers Museum Curator and Collections Manager Katie Adams poses for a photo with her 15-year plaque.
Tread of Pioneers Musuem/Courtesy Photo

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