The Aurora History Museum is a small museum centered on the history and culture of Aurora, Colorado. The museum currently has two rotating exhibits.
The visiting exhibit, Marking Time: The Voyage To Vietnam, gives you a glimpse into what life was like for many soldiers and marines who traveled to Vietnam by troop ship. The U.S.N.S. General Nelson M. Walker was a troop ship that took thousands of men to serve in the Vietnam War.
The men slept in berthing units that contained cots, known to the men as “racks.” There were as many as eight racks per unit. Some of the men used the racks as canvases for graffiti, and much of their story is told from the surviving racks. Notes, artwork, or just the name of the soldier or marine’s hometown can be seen on the canvases.
Their journey aboard the ship lasted from 18 to 23 days. Despite having duties to perform while on board, the men had much time to themselves. From drawings of bikini-clad women to caricatures of people, the canvas graffiti shows their thoughts.
These were among the last Americans to go to war on a troop ship. Most troop ships were decommissioned by 1968 and replaced by large aircraft. The exhibit ends on July 29, 2012. For more about this traveling exhibit go to http://www.vietnamgraffiti.com/.
Protecting Our Skies is the other temporary exhibit that is on display until August 19, 2012. While it contains few artifacts, it is mostly posters with vintage photographs and well-written captions that describe the history of Lowry Air Force Base.
From its start as a Colorado National Guard base in 1923 to its closure as a U.S. Air Force Base in 1994, the story, important to Aurora and Colorado history, is told. If you like to read about historical events in detail, you will enjoy this exhibit. If you seek to collect this information from published sources, I think you would find it difficult and time consuming. So this is an excellent resource for any history buff who wants to learn more about Lowry.
The permanent display covers the history and culture of Aurora. Starting with the natural history of the area and working its way from the native tribes to the early settlers, the display walks you through how the city of Aurora came to be. No evidence of permanent settlement by native tribes exists in the Aurora area, but there is some evidence of native peoples who appeared to pass through the area during the years prior to white settlement. Today, Aurora culture is diverse as the city government recognizes 72 languages.
Much of the city’s history is the story of urbanization and water. One of the displays is an early wooden water pipe. You wouldn’t think that wood is a suitable material for underground water pipe, but when you think about it, wooden barrels hold wine for long periods of time. So given the technology of the late 1800s, wood was not a bad choice to transport water across the community.
Allow at least an hour for your visit to this museum. I have seen local history museums that have a more comprehensive display of artifacts, so this is not a museum that I would include in a road trip. But, if you have some time to kill and live in or are visiting the area, it is worth dropping in to learn a bit more about Aurora history.