Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center (Fort Collins, CO)

The Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center has closed at 200 Mathews Street. The new Fort Collins Museum of Discovery opens on November 10, 2012 on the corner of Mason and Cherry Streets!

Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center (Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer)

200 Matthews Street
Fort Collins, CO 80525

Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays and holidays.

Adults (ages 13-59) $4, Seniors (ages 60+) $3, Child (ages 3-12) $3, Children 2 & under FREE

Admission is free every 3rd Sunday & admission to the archive is always free.

I have lived in Northern Colorado for eight years, but I had never visited the Fort Collins Museum until today. I spent 20 minutes circling the building looking for parking. Usually I wouldn’t have minded walking the few blocks from the Mountain Avenue parking garage, but it was cold out and I hadn’t brought along a warm jacket.

I managed to find a parking space directly in front of the building, and what a spectacular building. The museum is housed in the historic Carnegie Library built in 1904, located in downtown Fort Collins.

From the outside the museum looks huge, but once inside it’s not nearly as large as it seemed. The first floor houses the front desk, museum store and extensive archives. The second floor is home to the museum’s exhibit and the Discovery Science Center, and the third floor serves as administrative offices.

The first thing I noticed when I stepped onto the second floor were that the exhibits had easy-to-read informational signs. I’ve never had great eyes and this can be a frustration for me at a museum, but I could read the informational signs at this museum with ease.

The museum exhibits are all housed in one large room, starting with the history of Fort Collins. The town was originally a fort, built by the US military in 1862 to protect travelers on the New Overland Trail. The fort was called Camp Collins.

There are four historic buildings on the museum grounds. (Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer)

The Cache la Poudre River, a focal point in the region, is also a focal point of the museum and a reoccurring theme throughout. There is a large exhibit on the 1997 Spring Creek Flood that reeked havoc on Fort Collins and killed five people, but there’s also information on the many other floods that have occurred in the area. It becomes apparent that the river has been a giver of life, as well as a taker of life, in the course of the area’s history.

With today’s hustle and bustle of shoppers and diners in downtown, you’d never know that in the late 80s the area had nearly become a ghost town. Don’t miss the slide show on how Old Town Fort Collins was saved from the brink of extension

The museum features some fun Fort Collins facts. Did you know Disneyland’s City Hall was a copy of the one in Fort Collins? How did this happen? You’ll have to visit the museum to find out the answer.

Indiana Jones enthusiasts will enjoy the exhibit on the Folsom people, Fort Collins’ most famous archeological find. Visitors will also learn about how the area was populated with various immigrant ethnic groups during late 1800s and early 1900s. Many of the descendants of these people still call Northern Colorado home.

The Discovery Science Center part of the museum looks like it would be entertaining and educational for kiddos, with all kinds of hands-on experiments and an entire room dedicated to dinosaurs. There’s even ball python named Slinky that lives in the DSC and has his own twitter page. You can follow him on Twitter @SlinkyWorld.

Outside the museum visitors can tour four historic buildings from the surrounding area. The Elizabeth “Auntie” Stone cabin is the most sophisticated. Built in 1862, this is the oldest remaining building from the 22 buildings that were originally at Camp Collins. Inside the two-story cabin you can read about the intriguing Auntie Stone, who was an advocate for woman’s suffrage and a frontier businesswoman.

The Upper Boxelder Schoolhouse was originally built 35 miles northwest of Fort Collins. The school was built in 1905 and cost $290. It closed in 1951 and relocated to the museum grounds in 1975.

The Franz-Smith cabin (1892) and the Antoine Janis cabin (1859) round out the museum’s collection of buildings.

If you are new to the area, just visiting or if you’ve lived here for years, the Fort Collins Museum and Discovery Science Center is worth checking out with the entire family.

Author’s Note: The FCMDSC is moving!  Find out the details and watch the progress here: at

Any reproduction or unauthorized publication of this article or photographs is strictly forbidden. If you’d like to republish this article please send your request to

10 responses to Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center (Fort Collins, CO)

  1. I want to visit this the next time I’m out!

  2. Interesting post Heidi! Thanks for sharing. I always love hearing about new museums! ~Cassie

  3. We’ve been before, but have *never* seen any dinosaur exhibits. This is HUGE news for us! We’ve got to go back over Christmas break so our dino-loving boys can check it out!

    Thanks for the great info!

  4. Hmmm.. must be a new section. It’s in the discovery science part of the museum, near Slinky. :-)

    Thanks for stopping by Kristin, Carmie & Cassie!

  5. Thanks for this great review. What’s also cool about the museum is that they’re currently building a new, bigger building at Mason and Cherry Streets. Construction has begun, and I read that the new museum will have a planetarium and much bigger exhibits. So cool!
    Check it out here:
    New Fort Collins Discovery Museum

  6. We’re so happy the Mayor stopped by for a visit, and hope that you’ll come and see us again in our new building!

    The current exhibit layout is an amalgamation of the two original museums (The Fort Collins Museum and the Discovery Science Center). As you noted, we’re in the original Carnegie Library so space is a huge limit. However, our new museum will be larger and have all new exhibits that focus on local history, science, and how the subjects connect.

    You can follow our progress on our website: and also through the museum’s blog:

    Thanks again for the visit – what an honor!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. A visit to the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center | - December 9, 2010

    [...] Read about my tour of the museum here! [...]

  2. Top 5 Christmas gifts, according to the Mayor | - December 20, 2010

    [...] example, a family membership at the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Center costs $70 (individual, $35) and benefits includes unlimited access to the FCMDC, discounts on [...]

  3. Mother’s Day HeidiTown Style | - May 3, 2011

    [...] mom: Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Zoo, Denver Art Museum, Fort Collins Art Museum, Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, The Colorado Symphony, Fort Collins Symphony, Greeley [...]

Leave a Reply