Southern Ute Cultural Center
Explore. Discover. Sui Mu (ute).
Open Daily 10am – 5pm
Closed: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, & New Year’s Day
The Southern Ute Museum strives to ensure the survival of Southern Ute people through meaningful education, cultural, historic, and current event exhibits, and to provide a unique museum experience for indigenous and non-indigenous visitors.
The Southern Ute Museum in Ignacio, is a Southwest cultural resource and regional highlight. Designed by Jones & Jones Architects in Seattle, Washington, who fashioned the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the exceptional architecture and beauty of the building and landscape incorporate cultural symbolism and a connection to the land. Inside, memories and history from a tribal perspective give meaning to the phrase, “Numi Nuuchiyu, We Are the Ute People”. Through meetings and consultations, the Tribe combined thoughts and ideas gathered from tribal youth to tribal elders, in order to present the story of Colorado’s longest continuous residents.
Visitors first encounter the beauty of the landscape when walking past plants important to native subsistence and when crossing a flowing stream. The symbolic Bear Dance corral sits below the iconic cone entrance. Once inside, guests are awed by Ponderosa pine poles rising 60 feet through a second story tipi-like loft and ending at a Circle of Life glass ceiling. Light floods the welcoming atrium where guests are greeted by seasonally relevant displays.
All gallery spaces are self-guided so visitors can meander through the museum at their leisure. The Permanent Gallery chronicles the story of the Ute people, Numi Nuuchiyu, We Are the Ute People, from prehistory to modern times. This gallery is presented through photographic panels, audio-visual presentations, and interactive electronics. Additionally, life-size replicas include a buffalo hide tipi, a cabin, and a school room. Here, one notices six themes among the permanent gallery: welcome, long time ago, camp scene, reservation life, celebrating traditions, and current events. All themes tie into the key message among the Ute people, “We are still here”.