Brad Evans Wants to Open a Suitcase Museum in Denver — Carry On!

Vintage Schwayder suitcase.
Vintage Schwayder suitcase.

Brad Evans packs a lot of ideas into his big brainpan. Last year at this time, the founder of the Denver Cruiser Ride was still considering running for mayor of Denver — riding on the discontent expressed by so many for the seemingly uncontrolled growth in this city. Instead, he settled on another campaign: Denver Fugly, the Facebook page he created to discuss the good and bad in design and architecture not just in Denver, but around the world. And now he’s launched another quest, one he’d promised himself he’d get under way this year: He’s making a case for Denver  to be the site of the world’s first actual Suitcase Museum.

Evans admits that the concept might sound nutty. But the more he studies this city’s history, the more he believes it’s “perfect for Denver,” which he calls the “birthplace of the modern suitcase.” After all, Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company — the forerunner of Samsonite — got its start in 1912 at 15th and Platte streets. And today metro Denver serves as the "campus" headquarters for eBags, the online luggage company. “I’m learning the history as I go,” Evans says. And every day, he’s finding out more facts that support his case.

He lays them out on the Suitcase Museum GoFundMe campaign that he launched on January 3. “Quirky enough to become a destination for tourists and locals alike, the Suitcase Museum will combine history, travel, technology and creativity into a museum that supports a variety of agendas throughout the community,” it promises. Once Evans raises the desired $50,000, he’ll activate the nonprofit he’s set up to create an incubator for the museum (hey, doesn’t the History Colorado Center have some empty space?), then work on creating a permanent home for the concept. Something iconic, he says, pointing to the Little Man Ice Cream milk jug. Maybe a giant suitcase — and one designed so well that it won’t raise the hackles of the Denver Fugly crowd. Or split at the sides.

“We’ve discovered that there is a completely other-worldly aspect of what the suitcase represents as a cultural icon in our collective memory,” Evans’s latest campaign promises. “The Suitcase Museum will use its collection to explore numerous concepts of memory, travel, form and function. This museum will explore both the obvious and the abstract ideas about the suitcase.”

Carry on!

Brad Evans Wants to Open a Suitcase Museum in Denver — Carry On! (5)

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