On November 11, 1949, the Koshare Museum opened its doors to the public. From the day of the grand opening, this was no ordinary place. The dream of this museum began well before the official opening; it began at the bottom of the Great Depression when a group of young Boy Scouts became interested in Native American lore.
A person is never too young to make a difference! In addition to its noteworthy collection, the Koshare Museum tells the story of the youth whose efforts helped shaped the museum.
In February of 1933, sixteen Boy Scouts met in a backyard owned by the family of one of the boys. Under the inspired leadership of their Scoutmaster and the Koshares’ founder, James Francis “Buck” Burshears, the boys would form the Koshare Club. This club would be the foundation of the Koshare Dancers, the group whose efforts would build and expand the Koshare Museum.
By the late 1930s, the Koshare Dancers found great success as interpretive dancers. Buck and his boys decided to use the funds they earned through their performances to construct a great round room inspired from the kivas of the Anasazi. This structure gave them a new home for their Boy Scout Troop and the inspiration for what would become the Koshare Museum. With change from a pop machine and the dollar bills left in the donation basket, the group began purchasing artwork from New Mexico and Native American artifacts from around the country.
Today, their noteworthy collection, an extremely rare museum assembled by kids, contains original artwork from the Taos Art Colony Founders and Santa Fe Art Colony Founders, ancient artifacts from the Plains and Pueblo tribes, and several Western artifacts from the early days of the American West.
For fifty-four years, Buck Burshears would serve as the only Scoutmaster for the Boy Scout Troop and more than 500 of his boys would achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. Buck’s guidance and mentorship provided the foundation for an active and educational youth development program focusing on leadership enhancement, cultural enlightenment, and character enrichment.
The core of the Koshare Youth Program was based on scouting principles with a focus on artistic expression.”
The museum remains true to its origins and scouting remains a vital element within the Koshare organization. The museum serves as a troop meeting location, a youth center, an overnight hostel for traveling scouts and youth groups, a performing arts center, and a Native American museum opened to the general public throughout the year.
The Youth Program now consists of programs which includes boys and girls within Boy Scouts, Venture Crew, or the Middle School Explorer programs. Together, the members of these programs make up the Koshare Dancers whose efforts continue to support the preservation of the Koshare Museum and its collection.
The Museum Built Through the Efforts of Kids
A tour of the museum not only provides visitors with the opportunity to view a significant and noteworthy collection, but it also presents an incredible lesson on the importance of believing, cheering, and supporting the young dreamers residing in our communities; it provides a lesson in the potential each child has when given a chance, a helping hand, and the belief they are capable of realizing an extraordinary feat.
Since the opening of the museum, this youth organization has helped put their small town on the map, and it has attracted more than two million tourists to this rural Colorado town.
This exceptional collection of arts and artifacts has been featured in countless national publications, media broadcasts, and traveling exhibitions.
The original 1949 structure is a registered state historic site of the Colorado Historical Society, and it is considered the home of the world’s largest self-supported log ceiling structure.
To provide additional benefits for the museum visitor, the Koshare Trading Post is located within the museum and provides a selection of beautiful items ranging from authentic Native American jewelry, pottery, kachinas and other items to novelty items for children of all ages.