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Established in 1970, the Western Museum of Mining and Industry (WMMI) is a private nonprofit, 501(c) 3 whose mission is to preserve, collect and interpret the rich mining history and related industries of Colorado and the American West.
Unique to WMMI is the actual operation of its carefully restored multi-ton steam engines and mining machines. The emphasis of the museum's collections is on the technology and technological history of mining and metallurgy, as well as the social history of the American West. Over 4,000 artifacts are on display at the 27-acre indoor/outdoor exhibit site, which includes a working hoist house; mine blacksmith shop; ten stamp mill; and multi-purpose center with exhibits, theater and a 13,000 volume research library. WMMI has been accredited by the American Association of Museums (one of only three Colorado Springs museums to hold this honor) since 1979, and is the only accredited mining museum in the western United States.
The museum gives special emphasis to providing educational opportunities to K-12 students through guided group tours and outreach programs. Of the 40,567 people who toured the exhibit site in 2005, 19% (7,772) were students on a school field trip, representing 381 classes from 110 schools. Museum programs are used to augment classroom curricula and are individually designed to meet the needs of students studying subjects ranging from 19th century machinery to upper-level chemistry and the environment.
In addition to the highly successful K-12 tour program, the museum has created programs specifically aimed at bringing new audiences into the museum. Our Super Saturday program has introduced the role of mining and minerals to children and their parents through arts, crafts, music, sports, and other activities. For example, over 75 families attended a recent Super Saturday program featuring simple principles of physics through hands on experiments and working Lego models in January, and in March the museum presented internationally known story teller, Opalanga Pugh as she assumed the character of Aunt Clara Brown: slave, pioneer, entrepreneur, mine owner and woman of color.