Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum (credit: oldewash.com)
Sure, the big museums in Denver are amazing, and you should definitely spend some time browsing all the great spots for nature, science, art and history. However, there are a lot of smaller museums that pay tribute to some very different types of history. From dolls and toys to firefighters, washing machines and jails, there are some museums that are a bit different and even a little weird. Here are some of the top weird museums to visit in the area.
Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys
1880 Gaylord St.
Denver, CO 80206
Spend some time browsing the fun exhibits at the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys. You’ll find a plethora of different collections that are sure to whisk you back to childhood or amaze and delight your own children. Check out the cathedrals and castles built entirely out of matchsticks, view the fully furnished miniature houses or check out the small trains, plans and cars. Delight in the antique dolls, artisan miniatures and Japanese dolls. Be sure to check back often, as it also features a great selection of rotating temporary exhibits that change every three months. This museum is a fun way to spend an afternoon browsing through the history of toys and dolls and getting transported back to your childhood.
Photo Gallery: Denver Museum Of Miniatures, Dolls And Toys
Denver Firefighters Museum
1326 Tremont Place
Denver, CO 80204
Housed in the original Firehouse Number One since 1909, the Denver Firefighters Museum is home to more than 100 years of exhibits, artifacts and fascinating information. Learn all about the different ways that fires were dealt with in the past. From the process of communicating a fire to personal protective tools and gear to different items used to fight the actual fires like horse-pulled or motorized fire trucks and the different types of hoses, there’s a lot to learn. There is also a fun display on the second floor that explains all about the training and living quarters at Station Number One. You’ll learn all about how difficult it is to become a firefighter and what it is like to live in the station. This is a fascinating museum and one that is definitely worth a visit.
Dillon Schoolhouse Museum
403 La Bonte St.
Dillon, CO 80435
Schools today are vast structures with tons of hallways and huge gymnasiums. However, in 1883, schoolhouses were quite different. Take a look at an actual 1883 school, restored to look just like it did when the students filled the seats every day. You’ll find all the traditional old school artifacts like slates and chalk, individual learning stations, chemistry sets, a phonograph, typewriters, clothing and so much more. A tour of this schoolhouse is a fascinating way to learn all about the history of what it was like to go to school before the modern age.
Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum
35901 CR 31
Eaton, CO 80615
The washing machine may be the home appliance most often taken for granted. It holds a vast and impressive history, as people throughout the years worked to find different ways of cleaning their clothes. The Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum will show you all the different machines that were used while you browse through the museum with the Guinness World Record for the most antique washing machines. You’ll find more than 1,400 different machines dating back to 1840 as well as all the different tools like washing bats, washer skates, washboards and more. The electric washer wasn’t mass produced until 1906, so there are a lot of pre-electric machines to look at as well as electric ones. Tours are available by appointment only so make sure to call ahead.
Cripple Creek Jail Museum
136 W. Bennett Ave.
Cripple Creek, CO 80813
The legends and lore of the Old West make up some of the most interesting history of the state of Colorado. You can take a visit back to those days with a tour of the Cripple Creek Jail Museum. Housed in the building that used to be the Teller County Jail for nearly 90 years, the Cripple Creek Jail Museum is now a place to browse through the original cells and experience what it was like on the other side of the bars. You can also browse through exhibits that tell you all about the different criminals, police logs from the 1890s, early newspaper accounts of crimes and so much more. It’s a truly authentic jail museum and one that is sure to make a lasting impression.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.