our history

The Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum is the first and only museum in the nation dedicated to mountaineering history. Since its founding in February 2008, the museum has pioneered a new approach to interpreting knowledge about mountains and educating people on mountaineering history, safety, and mountain culture. The museum features 3,500 feet of space in the American Mountaineering Center, nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Golden, Colorado. Exhibits on climate, science, cultures and the humanities as they relate to mountains promise to make the visitor experience rich, exciting, and interactive.

As a joint venture of the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) and the American Alpine Club (AAC), the museum has both a local and national following. Known as the nation’s foremost destination to experience and research mountain history, the museum’s unparalleled and varied collection offers a comprehensive field view. Thanks to the generosity of mountaineers from around the world, the collection has grown to include over 5,000 pieces of gear, slides, prints, outfits and cultural artifacts. The museum brings visitors into the world of mountain and rock climbing and honors the achievements of mountaineers from America and abroad.

bradford washburn

The Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum is devoted to mountaineering, the mountains, science and art, and the sharing of knowledge--all things that Bradford Washburn exemplified. Henry Bradford Washburn Jr. was born on June 7, 1910, in Cambridge, Mass. After climbing Mt. Washington at the age of 11, his mother gave him his first camera, a Kodak Brownie, the point-and-shoot of the day. He remained passionate about climbing and photography for the rest of his life. In 1939, he was named director of the New England Museum of Natural History in Boston. For the next 40 years he remained the director, renaming the museum as Boston's Museum of Science and transforming the original museum's uninspired collection into a leading center for science. Washburn was still pioneering cartographic methods on Mt. Everest while in his 80s. Using global positioning techniques, he produced an exquisite example of the blending of art and science through mapping, and in the process determined a new height for Everest at 29,035 feet.



Shara Derks joined the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum in late 2016. She has a double degree in History and Communication from the University of Tulsa with a background in event planning and community building with both non-profit and for profit organizations such as the YMCA and Arc’teryx. Coming from the Mukilteo, WA, Shara’s passion for the outdoors started on the water as a rower but it has grown into an obsession with rock and the mountains since moving to Colorado. She is excited to bring her passions for history and climbing together at the American Mountaineering Museum.

All website photos by Luke Allen Humphrey.