Jonny Barber Passes the Colfax Museum Collection Plate

Jonny Barber in the original home of the Colfax Museum.
Jonny Barber in the original home of the Colfax Museum.
Brandon Marshall

Are you lonely tonight?

If you donate $5,000 to the Colfax Museum, you could buy yourself a private show from the "Velvet Elvis," who happens to be the alter ego of Colfax Museum founder and curator Jonny Barber.

Barber started his quest to save the culture and history of Colfax Avenue fifteen years ago. "Denver was changing so rapidly I knew I had to act if I wanted to preserve the things I loved about Colfax Avenue," he explains on the GoFundMe page that he now hopes will preserve his dream.

Over the past year, Barber has had some very bad luck. The most recent blow landed when the museum's home at Pasternack's Art Hub in Lakewood, where it had moved from East Colfax in 2018, flooded for a second time this summer, drenching much of the collection that wasn't on loan for a Denver International Airport exhibit or in some other safe stash. "I spent an additional year working without pay doing construction on a building that ultimately severely flooded, literally leaving my dreams in the mud and my finances washed away," Barber says.

After that, he was ready to call it quits, and in October he announced that he was going to sell off what remained of his Colfax memorabilia. But then a few community members reached out and encouraged him to stay the course, donating enough to get everything restored (most of the key pieces survived the flood), moved and safely stashed while Barber raises the money to buy back the collection that the bank technically now owns.

"We need to write a check for $150,000 to the bank," Barber says on the site. "Then all of the museum-related debt will be lifted from my family and the collection. At that point, the Barber family will donate the entire collection to the Colfax Museum 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. Having the collection paid for and in the possession of the nonprofit also guarantees that any direction the museum may take will be managed by a competent and experienced Board of Directors."

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That board will help guide the museum to a new home — somewhere on Colfax, of course, although Barber isn't talking about a possible location until he has the cash to make it a reality. And he's certain he'll get that cash. "I have every confidence that with the community support it deserves, the museum is going to thrive and will be a popular destination for locals and travelers alike," Barber vows.

But first, Colfax fans need to ante up. And even if you can't come up with the full $5,000 for a concert by the King (100 percent deductible, Barber points out), all donors "will get VIP treatment for life and the satisfaction of knowing that our urban history will live on," he promises.

For details, go to the GoFundMe page.

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