New home, goals for Rocky Flats museum

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The Rocky Flats Cold War Museum has a new location, new name and a new mission.

Now operating under the name of the Rocky Flats Institute and Museum, it is now located in the Jehn Center at 5690 Webster St. in Olde Town Arvada.

According to Connie Bogaard, the museum’s executive director, the move is a temporary one to help save money for a building of their own, which can be dedicated to exhibits and preserving the history of the Rocky Flats plant.

The museum is preparing to launch a capital campaign to raise money for a permanent site for the museum.

The initial campaign will be for $2.5 million, and Bogaard said the museum has created a new website that makes donating easier, has created more fundraising options — including a mobile exhibit that could visit places like the Arvada Center and History Colorado Center — and partnerships to help raise money.

“We will continue with our temporary exhibits here, and will keep working to collect oral histories from people who used to work at Rocky Flats,” Bogaard said.

“That’s really the most important thing we’re trying to do here, because every story is unique and contribute’s to Rocky Flat’s history.”

The museum’s new mission — which is reflected in the name change — is to make the museum a place where people can come to put the work done at Rocky Flats, and the Cold War, in the proper global context, and discuss the modern nuclear situation.

“We want to be able to engage in conversations about what it meant to live by Rocky Flats, the ideas proposed for the land and the toll road that would go nearby,” Bogaard said.

“The plant is gone, but the issues around it are not.”

While the capital campaign is launched, Bogaard is already planning the next exhibits for the museum.

The newest will open in October, and will focus on the workers at Rocky Flats in the 1950s.

Helping out with the exhibit — and the museum as a whole — are former Rocky Flats employees Ken Freiberg, Jack Weaver and Gene McCracken, who meet every Wednesday at the museum.

“We want to help educated older people and younger people, especially the younger people, many of whom have not even heard of Rocky Flats,” Freiberg said.

“We want to try to tell both sides, but that can be difficult.”

Freiberg added that people who worked at Rocky Flats help nearby cities, from Arvada to Westminster and Louisville, grow.

McCracken said it’s important that people should not forget the Cold War, what it meant and how it changed the lives for countless people the world over.

“There were a lot of misconceptions about the plant, how it was and what we did there,” Weaver said.

“We’re now able to tell people about some of that, show what we and others did, and why they did it.”

For more information on the museum, visit www.rockyflatsmuseum.org.