Thank you for you interest, but the application for the 2019 CWAM grant application is closed. Information on next years grant will be available soon, so please check back. Four grants up to $500 each are available for CWAM institutional members. Ideas include collections rehousing, education trunks, website enhancement, staff training and more! Questions? Contact us.

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Past CWAM Grant Success Stories

“Two Ways Out of My House” – Fire safety interactive revitalization. Denver Firefighters Museum, 2019

Established in 1978, the Denver Firefighters Museum exists for two major reasons: to preserve and interpret the history of the Denver Fire Department, and to present vital fire safety programming to community members. This unique programming is accessible both as outreach to schools, community groups, senior centers, and other civic organizations; and as in-house exhibits and activities.

Given that a large portion of the DFM’s visitors include families with elementary-aged children, fire safety information must be presented in a fun, easily understood manner that is accessible to young children as well as adults. To that end, the education department presents safety information using child-appropriate language and with plenty of interactive elements to engage all learners.

Educational programming and activities include potentially tense questions that ask visitors to imagine emergency scenarios, such as “What would you do if your home was on fire?” and “What should you do if your clothes catch on fire?” Giving visitors the chance to practice these concepts in a safe, friendly space such as the museum is an important first step to helping everyone learn fire safety essentials.

The DFM was awarded a grant from CWAM in order to improve one of its interactive spaces, “Two Ways Out of My House”. This activity encourages visitors to consider what they would do if a fire started in their home. This activity reinforces concepts such as crawling low under smoke, feeling doors before opening them, and reaching a safe meeting place once outside. For young visitors especially, the interactive nature of this space is key to helping them understand these life-saving concepts.

This grant allowed the DFM to print high-quality vinyl decals to cover some of the aging surfaces in the activity. The new decals have a strong adhesive backing and UV-resistant inks, ensuring that they will stay in place and look good for years to come. Illustrations created by the education department depict a home interior that helps visitors immerse themselves in the space.

Other surfaces in “Two Ways Out of My House” received a fresh coat of paint, also purchased with grant funds. To increase engagement within the space, the DFM also installed flip panels. These panels ask further questions about fire escape plans and general home safety, while reinforcing existing safety concepts already within the space. These flip panels are already familiar to many museum guests and will be especially accessible for young children exploring the space.

Thanks to this grant, an aging activity has received new life. We expect that it will now stand for more years to come, delivering important safety concepts in a fun, interactive way.

Two Ways Out (Before)

Two Ways Out (After)

Two Ways Out (After)


Russel Hawley: A Thousand Unnamed Worlds at the Wyoming State Museum

This CWAM grant supported a six-month exhibit at The Wyoming State Museum of the paleontological illustrations of Russell Hawley, of Casper, WY.  Due to its popularity, we have extended the exhibit through the year. Russell is the artist-in-residence at the Tate Geological Museum in Casper. The show at the Wyoming State Museum consists of his detailed, scientifically accurate drawings of extinct plant and animal life based on Wyoming’s fossil record. This exhibit brings his original, hand-drawn illustrations to the museum, which would be displayed alongside an explanation of Mr. Hawleys process of creating lifelike illustrations from ancient partial skeletons. To accompany the 22 artworks in the show, Mr. Hawley wrote a paragraph-long explanation for each piece, explaining the creatures in detail, where they were found, and how he translated their remains into an illustration of living dinosaurs. These labels also noted when the most current science had deviated from what was available at the time the drawing was made, in some cases indicating feathers where Mr. Hawley had drawn scales, etc. These textual additions to the exhibit helped demonstrate for our visitors not only the knowledge and creativity required to imaging Wyoming’s paleontological past, but how new science is always further refining our understanding of history.

The CWAM grant covered a $250 honorarium for Mr. Hawley, the cost of shipping the work from Casper to Cheyenne and back, as well as defraying the costs of some framing and exhibit supplies. In total, the Wyoming State Museum re-matted and re-framed 11 of the 22 works with archival materials for the show (image attached). Ten percent of the grant was to go toward promotion, including a targeted Facebook ad and featured Instagram posts. The museum also designed a custom show postcard (image attached) which was available around town, at the welcome center outside Cheyenne, and in the museum. Advertising for the show also appeared in the community calendar on the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle website, and the PIO office of Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources sent out a press release to its list.

I believe this exhibit represented a unique opportunity for the Wyoming State Museum and the public we serve. Credit for CWAM’s generous support was given on the main exhibit text.


Guidestone Colorado Grant for Conservation

Hutchinson Homestead Keyed Melodeon, c1850s Before-After

Guidestone Colorado was awarded a 2018 CWAM Grant for the conservation/ stabilization treatment of a keyed melodeon c1850s that is part of the Hutchinson Homestead Collections. This melodeon, having traveled with Annabel McPherson Hutchinson’s family in a covered wagon in 1860, has a unique story to tell in the history of the Hutchinson Homestead. The Hutchinson Homestead was established in 1868 when Joseph Sykes Hutchinson and Annabel McPherson married and established a cattle ranch along the South Arkansas River in what is now southern Chaffee County. Today, this 150-year story is told through interpretive materials and the extensive collection of primary sources (photographs, journals, letters, and ledgers), artifacts and oral histories that six generations of the Hutchinson Family have kept and maintained. The keyed melodeon is one such item, and it brings a link to early pioneer history that pre-dates the Homestead itself. Annabel McPherson’s family traveled across the prairie from Wisconsin to Colorado in an oxen-train of covered wagons in 1860, when Annabel was 12 years old. This melodeon was one of the items brought with the family on this long journey, clearly significant enough to Annabel’s mother, Helen McPherson, to find room in the limited space of the wagon to not be left behind. Family stories tell how this melodeon was also a prized possession of Annabel’s, and the Hutchinson family has maintained it to the best of their abilities over the years. Today the melodeon still resides in the historic Ranch House, on display in the parlor, and is highlighted in the guided tours. Due to two serious breaks of the front leg/body joints, however, the melodeon had been propped up on wooden blocks just off the floor and was in dire need of stabilization treatment to help ensure no further damage was done. Thanks to the CWAM grant, we were able to hire Mark Minor, Conservation of Wooden Artifacts, who has 28 years of extensive experience in conservation, restoration and historic preservation of wooden artifacts and was the contract specialist on this project. The short-term benefit of this conservation/ stabilization treatment was to provide support to the structure of the main body of the instrument and allow the legs to be reattached in their proper orientation, thereby protecting the integrity of the instrument, getting it off the floor and protecting it from further damage. The long-term benefit of this work is in the story the melodeon will continue to tell to future generations of both the Hutchinson Family and visitors to the Hutchinson Homestead. As the provenance of this melodeon includes over 150 years in the same family and incorporates early pioneer and homesteading history of our region, it is truly a unique artifact with rich cultural detail. Visitors will have the opportunity to see and learn about this history with the personal touch of an item that was important to these early settlers, and valued by the family through generations. It has been really wonderful to have the melodeon back on its legs and be able to share it with visitors and school groups in its upright glory! Thank you, CWAM!!!


Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, Interactive Exhibit Programs

Jackson Hole, WY

“As a local museum in Jackson Hole, the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum (JHHSM) serves a variety of patrons of all ages and interests. The CWAM funding allowed the JHHSM to expand and enrich programming for young children, families, and visitors interested in a more interactive experience. We see many visitors throughout the summer and winter months that are looking for a fun way for their families to engage with local history—especially when the weather is snowy or rainy. Since many of our permanent exhibits are set up in “scenes” displaying homesteading, cattle ranching and dude ranching, we decided to use these surroundings as inspiration for our children’s activities.

We used the grant money to get Legos, stamps, postcards and a photo booth banner. The Legos encourages young visitors and students to create their own homestead and consider the challenges the original settlers had in “proving up their land”. Where would your water sources be? How would you grow food? What structures would you need? Research shows that using play to learn, allows students to internalize and apply their learnings. After observing and learning about a typical homestead cabin in the exhibit, visitors have a chance to design and construct their own homestead.

Additionally, we set up stamps and postcards to allow students to write home about their visit in Jackson Hole. Not only does this encourage literacy skills but is grounded in historical context as many dudes/dudines of the dude ranching era wrote letters home. This portion of the grant grew and expanded to provide content for other program areas. In our after school programming, we saw students excited to learn calligraphy skills so we also have a calligraphy station set up in the museum gallery space now. Lastly, our photo booth banner encouraged young visitors to play and have fun while engaging with history. In addition to putting up a banner, we also put out some of our previously acquired historic costumes for children. We saw children of all ages in fuzzy chaps and jean vest taking pictures and posing as cowboys and ranchers. We purchased a Polaroid camera and encouraged guests to take pictures to take home. (The Polaroid camera encouraged as many adults as children to have fun taking pictures in historic costumes!)

The CWAM grant allowed the museum to give patrons a chance to engage with history in a fun and unique experience. We saw children and adults alike taking pictures, playing with Legos and writing home on postcards. And as a result, they asked more questions about what it was like to be a cowboy or rancher at that time and thought creatively about past lifeways in Jackson Hole! Overall, through these visual and interactive additions to the exhibits, we achieved our goal of making the museum gallery more accessible for children and second-language learners.”

— Final report submitted by Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, June 2019. (Download the JHHSM final report.)


Homelake Veterans History Center Museum

Homelake, CO

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Archive project, Homelake Veterans History Center Museum

The Homelake Veterans History Center Museum received $500 from CWAM to purchase metal shelving from Certified Business Services. Boxes full of Museum archives, once stacked on top of each other and in danger of being damaged, were safely stored on metal shelving.


Sweetwater County Historical Museum

Green River, WY

With a CWAM grant, Sweetwater County Historical Museum created an education trunk for elementary schools. Available for local teachers to use in their classroom, the trunk focuses on Sweetwater County’s multicultural history. Each summer the Sweetwater Museum hires an intern. The 2013 summer intern worked with the Museum Curator and Exhibits Coordinator to develop the “Discovering Diversity” trunk. The trunk meets several 3rd grade curriculum standards and includes lesson plans, touchable artifacts and activities. For more information on the trunk: http://www.sweetwatermuseum.org/index.php/learn/trunk-program


Overland Trail Museum

Sterling, CO

Through a CWAM grant, the Overland Trail Museum upgraded their PastPerfect museum database to the latest version. This upgrade allows the Museum to retrieve records in an efficient manner. The upgraded database also played a major role in the Museum’s flood recovery process. In September 2013, the Museum sustained significant damage to its buildings and collections. PastPerfect 5.0 allowed the museum to track damaged artifacts sent away for conservation. The database has dramatically improved the Museum’s collections tracking.