Everything But the Mountains

By: Rachel Hausmann-Schall, artist residency & adult program manager on May 24th, 2023

Last week, I had the privilege of flying to Denver, Colorado with fellow Museum colleagues Elaina Johann and Amalia Wojciechowski for the 2023 American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo. AAM is a national non-profit organization that provides leadership, advocacy, and service to museums, museum professionals, and the field at large. The conference brings together museum professionals working in a variety of areas like education, administration, curatorial, and visitor engagement.

This year, the conference was connected by four themes: People, Power, Planet, and Possibility. Keynote Speaker Gregg Deal (Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe) addressed these themes during his poignant lecture. As a multi-disciplinary artist, activist, and “disruptor,” Deal’s work is informed by his Native identity and includes exhaustive critiques of American identity, society, politics, pop culture, and history. He continues to fight for “honoring Indigenous experiences, challenging stereotypes, and pushing for accurate representations of Indigenous people in art,” according to his 2018 TED talk.

The image is sectioned in two parts, the right side depicts two views of an interactive, hands-on space at the Denver Art Museum with colorful blocks of color adorning on the walls. The space is filled with uniquely shaped furniture and art materials. The left part of the image shows an Indigenous man standing with a man in a suit, but both figures are painted atop a facade of the American flag. The painting was created by artist Gregg Deal.

Creative Hub (left), and Gregg Deal’s painting, Kill the Indian, Save the Man, Save the Indian, Kill a Man, 2016, acrylic paint on canvas (right), both at the Denver Art Museum

His talk, among many other influential sessions on museum education and the importance of community, were just some of the many highlights of the trip. It was inspiring to hear so many museum colleagues at institutions ranging from the Smithsonian, to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, to the not yet open American LGBTQ+ Museum share their experiences and resources. Some thematic takeaways from both networking conversations and scheduled panel sessions for me included the importance of representation through diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, as well as engaging the local community. I continue to remain dedicated to both in my role at the Woodson Art Museum.

The image is sectioned into four parts. The top left depicts a colorful painting made up of CRT TVs, sitting next to every issue of TV guide. The top right depicts a room lined with paintings floor to ceiling that are filled with text. The bottom left image shows a gallery space at the Clyfford Still Museum, and the bottom right image depicts an immersive installation made to look like a cave with gemstones at Meow Wolf.

Installations at the Dikeou Collection (top left and right), Clyfford Still Museum (bottom left), and Meow Wolf (bottom right)

The image shows three immersive, colorful installations at Meow Wolf. The top left depicts a castle-like structure with colorful lights, the bottom left looks like a forest, and the bottom right are sculptural eyeballs made out of fiber hanging down from the ceiling. The top right picture shows Museum staff members Rachel, Elaina, and Amalia waiting outside the Denver ariport.

Immersive installations at Meow Wolf (left and bottom), Rachel, Elaina, and Amalia outside of the Denver Airport (top right)

In addition to attending conference sessions, Amalia, Elaina, and I visited Denver museums and attractions including History Colorado, Clyfford Still Museum, Meow Wolf, the Dikeou Collection, and the Denver Art Museum. It was a jam-packed visit which provided memorable opportunities to absorb resources. I’m excited to continue reflecting on my time in Denver by allowing for fresh ideas to develop into new educational experiences for visitors at the Woodson. Sadly, there was one thing we didn’t have time to explore: the mountains. Maybe next time, Denver.

Share This!

Subscribe to our weekly blog. Please enter your email address.