Longmont Museum exhibit explores town’s immigration history

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Longmont Museum exhibit explores town’s immigration history

Lauren Price

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Immigrants have been arriving in many parts of Colorado for more than 150 years, but where did they come from and what drove them here? The Longmont Immigration Heritage exhibit at the Longmont Museum tells the stories of immigrants that have been coming to the town dating back to the 1860s.

The exhibit, open through June 12 and located in the new Kaiser Permanente Education Center at the museum, features artifacts found and donated over the years as well as stories passed down by local immigrant families. It also explores the many possibilities and opportunities Longmont offered that attracted immigrants to the area, and what made them choose to stay.

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A photograph in the exhibit shows a migrant worker picking spinach in the area in 1990. Original photo courtesy of Denisse Allaire.

The first known community in the Longmont area was comprised of more than 700 people and after the census was done in 1870, there were 780 residents that hailed from 19 different countries. The desperate need for farm labor prompted even more immigration, especially for the cultivation of sugar beets, and the population exploded.

While moderately small in size, the exhibit packed an abundance of information and was comprised of photographs, display cases full of cultural relics, and large printed infographics stretched across the walls.

The data-based infographics displayed the percentage of foreign born residents living in Longmont as well as where they came from in each decade from 1870 to 1920. This portion of the exhibit aimed to debunk a common misconception that most immigrants in Colorado tend to be of Hispanic descent. While there were many Latinos that came to Longmont during The Mexican Revolution, other countries with large population explosions in the early 1900s include Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Denmark and Sweden.

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Original Colombian artifacts on display including an Año Viejo, wooden spoons and a flavored water jug. Courtesy of Lupita Ramirez-Dudley.

The exhibit, which opened to the public on Jan. 23, was created to tie in with One Action: Arts + Immigration, a countywide celebration exploring immigration and its effects all over Boulder County. Admission to the Immigration Heritage exhibit is free and the museum is open from 9-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays.

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