Even Obama's dry-erase board became a piece of history at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Barack Obama left behind more than memories when he visited the Denver Museum of Nature & Science last month, signing the $787 billion stimulus bill that was supposed to stabilize our miserable economy. He left behind several potential pieces of history, and since museums are all about archiving artifacts, curators snagged what souvenirs they could.

Their haul included the comfy chair that Obama sat in — brought in from the den of museum CEO George Sparks — as well as a U.S. flag that was on stage during the signing, a water glass with the presidential seal, a dry-erase board signed by Obama, and two handwritten notes left behind by Joe Biden. There's also a chance that the desk hauled over from the Governor's Mansion (it was in August Ritter's room) for the signing may end up in the museum's collection.

Sadly, the museum has no plans to create an Obama diorama (it even rhymes!), with wax figures of the president and vice president and maybe a polar bear or a musk ox, although museum spokeswoman Laura Holtman agrees that it would be cool. "Not many of our dioramas have people in them," she explains. In fact, she adds, the museum may not put the Obama items on display at all.


Barack Obama

Not that there's much room for them in the museum's 47 storage areas, either. But that will change over the next few years as the museum spends the $50 million it received from the Better Denver Bond Project, approved by voters in 2007, and hurried along in Denver's own little stimulus effort. The museum has already begun spending $20 million on improvements — low-flow toilets, for example, and better glass in its dioramas — and will renovate its Phipps Special Exhibits Gallery later this year.

Bids are also expected to go out this month on a new, $30 million science education center with an underground storage facility for the museum's one million-plus artifacts — including those from president's visit.

Roll over, Sinatra: And tell Elvis the news. When it comes to raising money for public television, nobody beats John Denver — which is why KBDI went back to the well Monday, rerunning John Denver: A Song's Best Friend, a documentary produced in 2007. But Channel 12 had a new lure this time, tickets to "John Denver: The Tribute," a June 27 Red Rocks concert that will feature Denver tribute artist Roy Rivers and original Denver guitarist Steve Weisberg, and commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Denver's final performance at Red Rocks.

"It was our best prime-time night thus far with pledge," says KBDI membership director Shari Bernson. Although she didn't have total numbers as of Tuesday, Bernson says the ticket giveaway (you got two with a $150 pledge) was a major draw. "We were thrilled because so many not-for-profits don't know what to expect right now, and a lot of public-television stations took a hit in their December pledge drives," she notes. The show and the offer will run again Saturday.

Elvis, Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash have all done all right for KBDI, but nothing scores with Channel 12's audience like Denver, an Indiana boy who adopted this town's name for his own and Aspen as his home. "His music appeals to a broad base of people," Bernson says. "It just lifts you. I think maybe the 1970s were a happier time for people, and folks get sentimental."

Scene and herd: Cool can be fleeting. That was always the underlying premise of the temporary Denver Community Museum — which, it turns out, is truly and not just conceptually temporary. Founder Jaime Kopke reports that the Platte Valley pop-up museum, located at 1610 Little Raven Street, will disappear at the end of April — but not until two final shows go up and down there, including Wonder Room, which Kopke imagines as a "cabinet of curiosities" inspired by our fair city (it closes March 6), and Bottled Up, the fifth in a series of community challenges. Kopke will be accepting bottled memories for that display this weekend — and in less than a year, her museum has given us plenty of memories to cherish.


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