A Brief History on the Luther Bean Museum in Richardson Hall

Toni Steffens
The Paw Print
Tucked away in the south end of the second story of Richardson Hall the Luther Bean Museum serves as an often underutilized service for the students of Adams State College and the public.
Museum director, Kat Olance, believes that one of the biggest problems for the museum is letting people know that it is there at all. She says that many of the students who do finally make their way to museum will tell her that they did not know there was a museum on campus. Some of those who have discovered the museum tell her it is a great place to study or to find inspiration. The space is regularly used for meetings and as a gallery space for local artists.
The present location of the museum was the original college library from the 1930’s until 1954 when the library was moved to what is now the Business School. In the 1970’s the library was moved again. This time it was moved across the street to its present location with most of the books being transported by hand.
Olance says that it is important to remember that in 1975 Richardson Hall was the only building used for academics at the school. As the college started to expand, there was some discussion on what to do with the old building. There was talk of tearing the whole building down and another idea that the whole space could be turned into a museum. In 1975, the Luther Bean Museum was established in its current location upstairs in Richardson Hall.
The college has been collecting donations since the 1940’s even before there was an official museum. The collection now includes Native American pottery, weavings, paintings, bronzes and other artifacts. A desk, chair, photos and other items that once belonged to William H. “Billy” Adams are on display in the museum. Adams wrote the bill that established Adams State College.
Many of the items in the museum once belonged to Beryl Woodward who helped Adams with the bill that established Adams State College. The Woodward’s gave “pretty much the contents of their home” according to Olance. The museum also recently acquired a stained glass bear that was done as part of a La Puente auction on ’07. The “Naming of Sangre de Cristo Mountains” mural by J. Noel Tucker is another important display at the museum.
The museum has only one staff member with two or three work studies and two or three interns every semester. Interns working at the museum are asked to write a paper on an item in the museum that interests them. Their work is then put on display with the item they have researched.
Olance encourages people to come to the museum because it is a quiet and useful space. She says that some students spend time just enjoying the room and admits that “location is a bit of an issue.” Students are also welcome to volunteer and help with inventory work if they have an interest. The museum also works to preserve the college’s history, says Olance “it’s that old learning from your past kind of thing.”
The museum is located in room 256 on the second floor of Richardson Hall. Admission is free and the hours are Tuesday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on the museum or to contact Kat Olance call 587-7151 or stop by.

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