Steamboat Art Museum is cultural jewel

At issue: The Steamboat Art Museum recently unveiled the final phase of a multi-year renovation project. Our view: The work completed at the museum is transformative and further enhances SAM’s role in our community as the cultural center for visual arts. Editorial Board • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher • Lisa Schlichtman, editor • Tom Ross, reporter • Hannah Hoffman, community representative • Bob Schneider, community representative Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or

Steamboat Springs is home to several gems that quietly sparkle — places that add dimension and culture to our mountain community — and the Steamboat Art Museum is one of those.

If you haven’t visited the Steamboat Art Museum lately, you’re in for a treat. Last month, the museum, located on the corner of Eighth Street and Lincoln Avenue, unveiled a new exhibit, “Imagining the West,” which also marks the completion of a multi-year renovation of the historic, circa-1905 Rehder building.

The exhibit is definitely impressive and so is the museum’s newly expanded space.

The latest renovation, which focused on rehabbing the 1920 addition to the building, doubles the museum’s exhibition space to about 7,700 square feet and gives curators the opportunity to host exhibits of up to 400 pieces. The existing Macnab Gallery in the front room of the museum and the original Helen Rehder Gallery remain. The new space adds a Founders Gallery and Youth Gallery as well as the ability to modify the space for individual exhibits through the use of moveable walls.

In our opinion, the work that has been completed at the museum is transformative and breathes new life into one of Steamboat’s oldest downtown buildings, which proudly holds a spot on the National Registry of Historic Places. The museum has called the iconic building home for the past 11 years, thanks to a 99-year lease with the city of Steamboat Springs, which was bequeathed the building by the Rehder estate.

Without a lot of fanfare and hoopla, a dedicated board of directors, led by longtime president Rod Hanna, along with other museum leaders, conducted a capital campaign to raise $1.7 million to restore the historic building. The fundraising effort was supported by a matching grant from the city of Steamboat Springs, a Heritage Advisory Fund grant, a DOLA grant, Colorado Historic Preservation tax credits, individual donations and funding from private and public foundations.

Now completed, the renovation not only created new exhibition space but also added art studios and classrooms, an art resource library and administrative offices on the building’s second floor. Exposed beams, stained glass and restoration of the stone walls pay tribute to building’s rich history, and the addition of a new HVAC system, the leveling of floors and new electrical wiring and lighting brings the building up to modern standards.

With its newly expanded space, the museum not only has the ability to host larger exhibits but also has room to expand its offering of youth art classes and artists’ workshops.

The museum is truly one of Steamboat’s jewels, and thanks to visionary leaders and financial contributions from many in this community, it will continue to serve as Steamboat’s cultural center for the visual arts. Its exhibits are free, making fine art accessible to the general public, and thanks to the new space, more world-class shows will be traveling to Steamboat in the coming years, including the already booked American Women Artists National Conference and Exhibit in 2019.

The timing of the completion of museum renovations is also fortuitous as it comes at a pivotal time for the community as it embraces and acts on the recently approved Colorado Creative District designation.

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