Diversity in museums : a study on how Colorado museums have worked with Mexican-American communities

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Diversity in museums : a study on how Colorado museums have worked with Mexican-American communities
Ewing, Shanea Ruybal
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Denver, CO
University of Colorado Denver
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Master's ( Master of arts)
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University of Colorado Denver
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Department of History, CU Denver
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Committee Chair:
Hunt, Rebecca
Committee Members:
Convery, William
Wagner, William


Museums are working on being more inclusive, but how have museums worked with diverse communities; how have they told the stories of diverse cultures? This paper observes five Colorado museums along the Front Range to see how museums are evolving to be more inclusive and tell more stories of people of color, specifically of Hispanics. By looking at exhibits, collections, and public programs, this paper hopes to show the benefits of working with communities which are valuable to both the institutions and communities they hope to serve.

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University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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Copyright Shanea Ruybal Ewing. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.


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i DIVERSITY IN MUSEUMS: A STUDY ON HOW COLORADO MUSEUMS HAVE WORKED WITH MEXICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITIES b y SHANEA RUYBAL EWING B.A., Colorado State University, 2013 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in p artial fulfillment o f the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts History Program 201 8


ii This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Shanea Ruybal Ewing has been approved for the History Program by Rebecca Hunt, Advisor William Convery William W agner May 12, 2018


iii Ewing, Shanea Ruybal ( M.A., History Program) Diversity in Museums: A Study on How Colorado Museums Have Worked with Mexican American Communities Thesis directed by Associate Professor C/T Rebecca Hunt ABSTRACT Museums are working o n being more inclusive, but how have museums worked with diverse communities ; how have they told the stories of diverse cultures? This paper observes five Colorado museums along the Front Range to see how museums are evolving to be more inclusive and tell more stories of people of color, specifically of Hi spanics . By looking at exhibits, collections, and public programs, this paper hopes to show the benefits of working with communities which are valuable to both the institutions and communities they hope to serve. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Rebecca Hunt




1 CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION As museums fight to stay relevant, it is crucial for museum professionals to ask their com munities what they need . Growing audience is crucial for museum survival and reaching out to groups not commonly visiting museums will help keep museums relevant to the public. As museum professional they see the need to create an experience that is not just educational, but fun and intergenerational and interactive and useful to their everyday lives . Gone are the days of useums are important because they are. Museums need to prove to the public that they ha ve a place in society and as the world becomes more diverse, the more crucial it will be for them to accommodate various groups of people. The Mexican American community in Colorado may not be as large as other populations within the American Southwest, b ut that does not mean that their voice is weak. On the contrary, Hispanics have made their voices heard in Colorado for generations. Since the Chicano Movement of the late 1960s to the 1970s, members of the Mexican American community have worked on making sure they have a stronger presence in education, politics, and equal rights. 1 inclusion of people of color is one way museums can improve 1 Marc S. Rodriguez, Rethinking the Chicano Movement , (New York: Routledge, 2015), eBook Colle ction (EBSCOhost) , EBSCO host, accessed March 13, 2018.


2 I ncluding diverse stories open s their doors to community members who have long felt excluded. In turn, these new museum audiences bring customs , cultures , and p erspectives that inform and educate museum professionals . Inclusion, and the incorporation of diverse perspectives, can enrich museum exhibition s and progra ms . This paper will discuss five museums in Colorado Denver Art Museum, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, History Colorado Center, El Pueblo History Museum, and The Longmont Museum that have actively started including a Hispanic voice in their exhibitions and programming. I will argue that to make museums relevant , the use of diverse stories and peop le will help to create a new group of loyal audiences and help make museums a space where people of colo r can feel welcome even if they may not have felt welcomed before. By opening doors and listening to the complaints and heartaches of the Latino/Hispani c community, these five museums have learned that they can gain not only a dedicated fan base , but also the respect of specific communities . It is important to note that a museum is missing from this paper. Due to time restrictions, I did not include Mus eo De Las Americas but wanted to note that it has had a significant impact on the Hispanic community. The creation of this museum is largely due to the shortcomings of Denver museums that have excluded Chicano /Latino art in their collections. The Museo has worked tirelessly to collect art from Latinos and educate the public about the contributions of Latino artists both locally and internationally for over twenty seven years . This museum is an outlier compared to the other museums observed in this paper , ho wever, since its sole purpose is to collect and exhibit Latino art. Nevertheless, including the Latino community


3 would have added an interesting perspective and I am disappointed that I was not able to discuss the work this institutio n has done with the Latino community. For the purposes of this paper, I decided to focus on Hispanic/Chicano/Latino community. Although I wanted to specifically look at the Mexican American community, the more I talked with museums, the more I saw a need to broaden my scope to include most of the Latino community. For ease, I chose to use all these terms interchangeably but note that the Latino community is as diverse and complicated as any other community. They may share a language, mostly, but many of the Latin American cultures have their own special qualities and traditions. 2 Again, identity is a tough subject to discuss without mentioning that not everyone fits nicely into a box and many people with Hispanic/Latino descent can have differin g opinions about what Mexican American , Chicano , Hispanic , or Latino can mean. Although my paper will discuss the wider Latino community , it is important to note that, American . In a demogr aphic report from 2014 , conducted by Pew Research Center, out of the Hispanic population in Colorado about seventy three percent are of Mexican descent. 3 Therefore, it is safe to say that the largest group within the Colorado Hispanic community is Mexican American . However, with Mexican Americans, time can be a factor as to how one relates to being Hispanic. Mexican American s who were here before or during the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo may not relate to newly immigrated Mexican Americans. 2 Ethnicities 11 , no 4 (2011), 539. 3 Center Hispan ic Trends, last modified 2014.


4 Because of all t he factions, locations, and diversity of this community, it is much easier to lump everyone into a box, but please note that each museum has targeted specific groups within the Latino community that make the most sense for their institutions. I will do my best to break that down, but for simplicity, please forgive any shortcomings that may arise. There are other communities that I c ould discu ss when it comes to the inclusivity of museums, but since I studied the Chicano Movement, and worked on an exhibitio n at History Colorado about the Chicano Movement, the Mexican American community is what piqued my interest. Although I was not on the original El Movimiento exhibit team at History Colorado, the work the team did inspired me to think about how museums dis cuss and work with Hispanics. The Chicano Movement was a time for change , and the people who risked their lives to stand up for freedom helped create a world where Hispanics stood up for themselves, invested in their education, created art, and helped thei controversial with in the community, the actions these people took have helped move the Hispanic and Latino people forward in America. 4 I find it crucial that a brief history of the Chicano Movement be included in this paper, since it provides context into the Latino struggle that motivated a group of people to protest, inspire a new art movement, and work on creating the next generations of Hispanic youth to become educated working professionals. 5 The rest of t his paper will take a deeper look into how five museums have worked with the 4 Ignacio M. Garcia, Chicanismo: The Forging of a Militant Ethos Among Mexican Americans, (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1998), 4 5 . 5 Ignacio Garcia, Chicano Movement , 4 5.


5 Hispanic community and how their relationships in the past have affected not only what types of artifacts are collected, but what types of visitation they see, what types of stori es have been told, and a general sense of how the community feels towards these institutions. I chose each museum for this paper because of the work it is currently doing with the Hispanic community , in hopes of showing that a trend is changing in the incl usivity of museums and that this has a positive impact not only on the institutions but with the guests who visit as well. The order of the museums is as follows : Denver Art Museum, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, History Colorado Center, El Pueblo Hi story Museum (a community museum of History Colorado), and The Longmont Museum. Each museum has taken a different path in working with the community, most are still learning how to work collaboratively, and others have realized that collaboration will help them thrive rather than barely get by, but all have some great insight about the positive work they have done with the Hispanic community.


6 CHAPTER II. CHICANO MOVEMENT After the Republic of Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to end the Mexican American War (1846 1848) , thousands of former Mexican citizens living in California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada , or at least those who chose to remain when the war ended, suddenly became American citizens. 6 This was and Anglo Americans. The rules of the land changed , and for better or worse , many of the consequences fell on the people who decided to stay . Throughout this section I will discuss the Chica no Movement and how activist leaders helped create national identity for the Chicano people , which inspired a sort of renaissance in Chicano culture. While Hispanics are a diverse group of people, by creating the term Chicano , activists were able to unify this group and create an ethos that Mexican Americans could be proud of for generations to come and want to see represented in museums. Although people of Mexican descent asserted their rights throughout American history, the Chicano Movement began in the late 1960s. Some of the most famous Colorado. California, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico , and Texas were the five southwestern American states with the highest prevalence of Ch icano activists. Mexican Americans during this time faced terrible racism and struggled to overcome fundamental issues such as the appropriation of traditional land rights, job 6 David J. Weber, Foreigners in Their Native Land: Historical Roots of the Mexican Americans , (Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press, 1996), 142.


7 discrimination, and police harassment , just to name a few. Even though they ca me from diverse regions, and often faced different issues, the activists in the Chicano Movement led political engagement, student walk outs, student and youth organizations, and anti war activism. These organizations for the most part worked separately, a nd sometimes against each other. But all fought for a common outcome: greater access to their rights as citizens. Activists banded together to fight injustices through largely nonviolent, but highly emotional activities. 7 These included boycotts, protest marches, editorial newspaper articles, walk outs , and more. Cesar Chavez famously fasted for thirty six days to gain recognition for the United Farm Workers. 8 Movement leaders often formed common bonds in dealing with the inequality and injustices they all faced together. Leaders such as Dolores Huerta, Hector Garcia, Reies Lopez Tijerina, Cesar Chavez , and Americans in the center of the news and making their cause more visib le. 9 The Chicano Movement protested the injustices that Mexican American citizens had been facing for generations. Despite living in the American Southwest for centuries, Hispanos still trailed Anglo Americans socially, politically, and economically in the 1960s and 70s. As an example, the 1970 census showed Hispanics living in Denver, Colorado , as having the worst family income and housing value, the highest rate of families receiving welfare, the lowest success rates in secondary edu cation , 7 Ignacio M. Garcia, Chicanismo , 4. 8 3, 2016, 9 Alice Higman Reich, The Cultural Construction of Ethnicity: Chicanos in the University. (New York: AMS Press, 1989), 150.


8 overcrowding, and unemployment. 10 Texas after World War II saw an increase economically in Mexican American workers. 11 Many young Chicanos were entering the work force at this time, and faced harsh conditions, with racism being one of the greatest challenges. 12 Although not all, seve ral Mexican Americans lived in the worst neighborhoods, with the worst housing and underfunded schools , and people were tired of the institutions failing them. The Movement finally brought to light the circumstances many Hispanics were facing in America. There was a renewal in energy to fight the struggle, to stand up for themselves, and to liberate themselves from the racism and exploitation they had faced for years. 13 The heterogeneous nature of Hispanic communities made it difficult for early Movement l eaders to assemble for their cause. 14 People with Mexican, Spanish, and Indian blood found it difficult to agree based on their cultural pride. For the Chicano Movement to gain any traction, activists and leaders needed to work together to create a sort of Chicano themselves something that felt more authentic. The first step in creating pride in your identity was to give it a proper name. Secondly, much like Latin American countries fightin g for independence in the 1960s and 70s, Chicano activists needed to create a 10 Richard Gould, The Life of Richard Castro: Bridging a Cu ltural Divide , (Denver: Colorado Historical Society, 2007), 4. 11 11 Ethnic and Racial Studies, vol. 33 no. 2 (February 2010) , 291. 12 Marquez and E 13 Ignacio Garcia, Chicanismo, 5. 14 Carlos Munoz, Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Movement, (London; New York: Verso, 2007), 19.


9 form of nationalism to keep people organized and dedicated to the movement. 15 Activists tried to create the idea of a shared culture and historical experience that was sufficient in producing a political agreement. 16 They argued that culture, rather than class, unified the Chicano people. 17 Due to the diversity of the crowd, having a name to call themselves that highlighted cultural similarities was an important first move t o creating a nationalist identity and strong cultural movement. However, a challenge the Chicano Movement faced was that not everyone in their demographic fit nicely in to a box. Many Hispanos felt discriminated against, but their identity was a contended issue. Since identity lives with the individual, the idea of coming up with a collective Mexican American identity was not an easy task. For the Chicano Movement to be successful, leaders needed to figure out what these Hispanos identit ies were and how to create pride in that. Historians still debate the origins of the term Chicano . The definition is somewhat ambiguous. Some say that Chicano is a play on the word Mexicano (Mexican). 18 Arnoldo de Leon , a Tejano historian , suggests that it comes from the N ahuatl word Meshico . 19 There are even regional differences for terms used to identify 15 George Mariscal, Brown Eyed Children of the Sun: Lessons from t he Chicano Movement, 1965 1978, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005), 117. 16 Cristina Beltran, Trouble with Unity: Latino Politics and the Creation of Identity, (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 42. 17 Beltran, Trouble with Unity , 42. 18 Juan Gomez Quinones, Chicano Politics: Reality and Promise, 1940 1990, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 1990), 7. 19 Handbook of Texas Online , Arnoldo De León, "Chicano," accessed March 12, 2018, e/articles/pfc02 .


10 20 Chicano has always been a bit of a controversial ter m primarily used by the more radical group of Hispanic activists. For many activists, Chicano indicates mestizo (mixed blood ) ; they are not one ethnicity, but a mixture of a lot of different ethnicities including Spanish, Indian, Mexican, and Anglo. 21 Much like their heritage, Chicanos lived between two worlds, that of the Anglo mainstream and that o f their ethnic heritage. By creating a term to call themselves, Chicanos sought to gain a sort of pride in their mestizo ness, bridging these two worlds in order to make one world that made sense to them. 22 Chicano , as a term, was, and is, something people could share even if they did not have the same definition for it because it was meant to be a personalized identity , and yet, unify the group at the sam e time. 23 Alice Higman put it best in Cultural Construction of Ethnicity, very explicitly refers to the Chicano people; it is not what makes Chicanos, but what 24 The idea of mestizo , of being mixed, was at the core of this culture. It means they had pieces of lots of different cultures and races, joined together to make one whole person, one whole group. Every person in that group may vary a bit, but they are Chicano. By stressing the mixed part of t hemselves they were linking to a more natural period, before European dominance. 25 According to Chicano activists, p re Columbian 20 Chris F. Garcia and Rudolph O. de la Garza, The Chicano Political Experience: Three Perspectives. (North Scituate, Mass: Duxbury Press, 1977), 17. 21 storical Journal of Historical Sociology , vol. 15, no. 3, (September 2002), 396. 22 Mariscal, Brown Eyed Children , 29. 23 Higman, Cultural Construction of Ethnicity , 105. 24 Higman, Cultural Construction of Ethnicity , 105. 25 Garcia, Chicanis mo, 71.


11 people represented the birth of the Chicano nation. By highlighting the Indio part of their ethos, Chicano activists were going back to a sense of high culture. 26 An activist group called the Crusade for Justice, founded by the Denver activist Corky Gonzales, created El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan , which mapped out the concept of a Chicano race and the concept of Aztlan, the homeland of the ancestral Mexica , and the people of whom the Chicano people believe themselves to be descendants. 27 Aztecs and Mayans had already mastered astronomy, mathematics, some forms of surgery, and agricultural production. Instead of hiding their Indian roots , Chicanos celebrated their direct bloodline connection to these two great societies. 28 The connection to advanced civilization s instilled Chicanos with pride , as described by philosopher Jose Vasconcelos , who termed it raza cosmica , a concept of a new race of mixed blood and origin. 29 Leaders like Cesar Chavez, who emphasized the worth of Chicano identity, helped assert their place in the political sphere to make real change for their people. 30 Viewing Chicanos as a nation energized the movement an d evoked more political power than working as a diverse and factionalized set of minority subgroups. Being a Chicano United States. This rise in pride then helped move thi s population into political 26 Garcia, Chicanismo, 71. 27 Ernesto Vigil, , (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999), 98. For further reading, see El Plan Espiritual Aztlan by Alurista. 28 Garcia, Ch icanismo, 71. 29 Jose Vasconcelos, La Raza Cosmica: Mission de la Raza Iberoamericana, (Agular, 1961). 30 Alice Higman Reich, The Cultural Construction of Ethnicity: Chicanos in the University. (New York: AMS Press, 1989), 160 161.


12 activity. 31 In this attempt they built pride in their history and people. This feeling then increased the personal connection of wanting the group to succeed in its effectiveness and competence. 32 The Chicano Movement was not hom ogeneous, but the shared goal was for 33 Activists, and particularly young people, not only strove to make radical changes th rough political action; they also began to cement their beliefs into art, poetry, and other vibrant cultural expressions . 34 Student movements and organizations started gaining a significant following and were among the most active participants in the Chicano Movement. By accepting the term Chicano and self identifying as one, the youth helped in creating a culture that would flourish and shine for years to come. 35 The art manufactured during the Chicano Movement was just as important when creating a Ch icano culture because it offered a visual and imaginative landscape for political activism. 36 Art was political, a way to express economic and racial inequality through murals, literature, theater, music, and drawing. These forms of art explored cultural pr ide and social inequality. 37 One of the best example s poem, Yo Soy Joaquin/I A m Joaquin . In Yo Soy Joaquin, Gonzales took historical figures 31 Chris F. Garcia and Ru dolph O. de la Garza, The Chicano Political Experience: Three Perspectives. (North Scituate, Mass: Duxbury Press, 1977), 16. 32 Garcia and de la Garza, The Chicano Political Experience , 16. 33 Garcia and de la Garza, The Chicano Political Experience , 33. 34 Garcia, Chicanismo , 69. 35 Mariscal, Brown Eyed Children , 28. 36 36 Guisela La Torre, Walls of Empowerment : Chicana/o indigenist murals of California , ( Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008 ), 68. 37 Beltran, Trouble with Unity , 31.


13 and formed a narrative that motivated people to act, but to also be proud of their past. His poem inspired a whole group of people to stand up and fight the injustices they faced. His powerful words still resonate with people today. Much of the art that resulted had indigenous influences , specifically Aztec or Mayan. Political murals star ted to pop up around cities like Denver and Los Angeles with strong Chicano influences and included the three faces to symbolize the mestizo or the Chicano Movement flag of the black eagle. Popular political figures like Che Guevara , guerilla leader in Cuba, appear ed in the murals and illustrated a strong political tie to the nationalist struggles happening in Central and South America. 38 The political murals had huge significance to the political actions taking place during the Chicano movement. The passion of the people moved a rtists . Embracing their indigenous background , painters painted many Aztec or Mayan symbols in their work , including Mesoamerican pyramids. 39 By painting these symbols they expressed their acceptance of being a mestizo, but also were proud of their background and felt a sort of moral high ground because they viewed these ethos to be highly evolved. 40 The art served a purpose of transforming Chicano 41 By highlighting native histor y it worked as a way for Chicanos to feel a sense of belonging to the American continent, including the United States . 42 Centuries of domination and oppression , first from the Spaniards , then from Anglos , left an impression on Chicano s. 38 Mariscal, Brown Eyed Ch ildren , 117. 39 La Torre, Walls of Empowerment , 75. 40 Garcia, Chicanismo, 71 72. 41 La Torre, Walls of Empowerment , 67. 42 La Torre, Walls of Empowerment , 69.


14 This had a large effect on their identity. 43 Chicanos were historically misplaced people. The slogan from the immigrant rights movement, the border , the 44 commonly used in Chicano circles , illustrate d the historical circumstances faced i n their homeland. Although Hispanics lived on the land first, Anglos constantly told them what do with it ; thus they need ed to learn a completely different political and economic system and were treated as second class cit izens. Connecting with the indigenous people of the land helped unite them and make them feel that they had a right to live where they did and that they should feel confident in working for a better future. Artists generating images with a heavy political agenda motivated activist s to do more. They marched in the picket line s and boycotted big companies, they fasted, braved police beatings, marched, and yelled for change. The artists during this time played a significant role in stimulating change , which ha s had an impact for generations. Chicano and Latino artists are still creating. They are still finding ways to stand up against Anglo society and working hard to make sure the y tell the Chicano story. Today artists are still going strong, creating art and poetry, continuing traditional style s of dance, and celebrating multiple holidays that tie into their American , indigenous , Mexican , and Spanish backgrounds . They are creating businesses that help inspire 43 C Journal of Historical Sociology , vol. 15, no. 3, (September 2002), 395. 44 The Encyclopedia of Latino Popular Culture views this saying statement saying of contemporary The Border Crossed Us: Rhetoric of Borders, Citizenship, and Latina/o Identity between Mexico and the US.


15 future generation s . And the y are advocating that museums tell their story and culture in exhibitions and programs. The Chicano Movement is an interesting point in time in that it falls into an era in American history when people wanted to see change. People of color were tired of the injustices they faced, tired of being second class citizens ; they were tired of a war that took a lot of their men. People were active. It was an exciting time in history because of this. The age of taking political, social, and economical injustices quietly had gone and was , and although the Movement had many internal problems that ultimately led to its downfall, it still successfully created a uni fied identity called Chicano . People had pride in their heritage , a fact that has had a lasting impact on their social welfare . Chicanos/Latinos have become the largest minority group in America and are the majority race in many s tates. 45 According to the Pew Research Center, in 2016 the Latino population nearly reached 58 million in the United States . 46 Latinos have yet to completely harness their political power, but they are a contender in political battles. The Chicano Mo vement helped make for a more politically active group of people , and because of that there has been a growing number of Chicano political leaders. Thanks to the Chicano Movement, youth and student activists grew up to make a change in the wo rld. They created Chicano Studies , a discip line that furthers the knowledge of Chicano history, something previously lacking in the U.S. school system. They became 45 31, 2018, 46 ew Research Center, (September 18, 2017), accessed March 31, 2018, tank/2017/09/18/how the u s hispanic population is changing/.


16 business owners, academics, politicians, and artists and help ed pave the road for even more Chicanos to succeed. Their legacy helps others move forward and continue s to make the world a better place for Chicanos. The not so simple task of unifying a diverse group of people by using the controversial term Chicano shows that this movement w as successful. The Chicano Movement inspired so many generations to make a better world for themselves. It inspired artists to create because of this dream , and , because of their creativity, Chicanos have a whole world of paintings, murals, music, dance, theater, literature , and history that mesmerize. People are more prone to protect something if they feel it is important, and this is important. Art i s what makes societies special ; it has a sense of uniqueness that nations want to protect. Activists in the Chicano Movement knew that to make people feel protective of their heritage, they needed to give them something to protect. Culture is worth protecting and , thanks to the Chicano Movement, artists created something that has survived for over fifty year s. Museums are finally recognizing their work too, as we see a trend of what museums in Colorado have deemed worthy to discuss and exhibit . stor ies inspired this paper, and it is crucial to understand their struggle to gain the perspect ive that the fight does not end in the picket lines but is continuous until the history books and museum exhibitions tell .


17 CHAPTER III. DENVER ART MUSEUM The Denver Art Museum (DAM) , like many of the museums in this paper, has not always had a good working relationship with the Hispanic/Chicano community in Colorado. The museum has not always been inclusive in its collecting goals, or hiring practices ; h owever, DAM employees have been working to improve this . 47 Through community o utreach and advisory meetings, DAM has worked to create a more inclusive museum for the Latino community. 48 The museum ha s worked on creating more diverse programming, offering tours in both English and Spanish, and is working on hiring more diverse emp loyees , especially in its collections department . It has already started, by hiring two Latino curators to work in the New World colle c tions a first for DAM which has reflected on the museum favorably among some in the Latino commu nity . 49 Although DAM has worked on being multi cultural for many years now, it has also attempted more modern ways of being inclusive. Heather Nielsen, Director of Learning and Community Engagement for DAM, has spent the last few years cultivating relationships with the Latino/Hispanic community and retains several community advisors wh o help with programs, audience engagement, and exhibitions. 50 To better serve Latino audiences, Nielson and other 47 Heather Nielsen, interview by author, Denver, November 16, 2017. Adriana Abarca, interview by author, Denver, December 11, 2017. 48 Heather Nielsen. I felt it easier to use the words they did while talking about their programs. committees have the word Latino in them. 49 Heather Nielsen, interview, November 16, 2017. 50 Heather Nielsen, interview, November 16, 2017.


18 DAM staff members started a Latino Audience Alliance group in 2015 to help them navigate open communication with the local Hispanic community. The volunteers who serve on the Latino Alliance have come together not only to help with new exhibitions, but also to reflect on the overall role the institution ser ve s . 51 Working with this advisory group, DAM opened an exhibition called Mi Tierra , which looked at the land of the Southwest through Mexican American their homeland through their art , sparking conversation s ab out immigration, racism, and police brutality in the United States and Mexic o . the programming to coincide with it. 52 other recent project working with the Latino comm unity in 2016 through 2017 was called Cuatro(4) . The goal was to allow Latino s in the community to feel like stakeholders in the museum. 53 Through the connections of the Latino Audience Alliance, DAM found three great, local artists Carlos Fresquez, Danette Montoya, and James Cordova and one organization Café Cultura to help run its Cuatro(4) program. 54 The goal of Cuatro(4) was for DAM to open its pre Col u mbian and Spanish Colonial collections to the artists in the community so that they could in terpret and share what the art means to them and their community. Nielsen discussed a need for the community to become agents of the museum. 55 She also mentioned that it had been twenty years since DAM had showcased th e pre 51 Heather Nielsen, interview, November 16, 2017. 52 Heather Nielsen, interview, November 16, 2017. 53 Heather Nielsen, interview, November 16, 2017. 54 Cuatro(4): A Series of Artist Interactions, Denver Art Museum, (2016), accessed December 26, 2017, 55 Heather Nielsen, int erview, November 16, 2017.


19 Columbian and Span ish Colonial collections and it was time to allow for new interpretation. 56 She implied t hat these new interpretations from local Latino artists can help further the understanding and significance of the art DAM collects . The project also helped th e staff , and hopefully visitors , understand the cultural significance some of the pieces in collection held to the Hispanic community. Although advisory aid from the Latino Audience Alliance has helped bridge a connection between DAM and the Latino/H ispanic community, DAM has been working for years to engage Latinos into the institution. Dia del Niños (Day of the Children) is Niels e n , though, noted that for years, Dia was the only day in the year that DAM offered any Spanish interpretation. It was the only day of the year that they did any outreach for the Latino community. Seeing this as a shortcoming, DAM has worked diligently to make the museum fully integrated with Latino programmin g and to offer Spanish in all communication given to the public. 57 Especially after accepting the funding from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), DAM wanted to start thinking of ways that would allow the institution to be more inclusive over longer periods of time we be Dia del Niños 58 With SCFD funding the museum felt a responsibility to the community to be an inclusive space , and that is something the staff is still working on becoming. Quite frankly, the museum still has more work to do , and more action is necessary for the community to trust DAM. 56 Heather Nielsen, interview, November 16, 2017. 57 Heather Nielsen, interview, November 16, 2017. 58 Heather Nielsen, interview, November 16, 2017.


20 DAM has started opening communication to the community, but many still feel that DAM has not reached out to all the people it need s to. Many in the Denver Chicano community still feel that they are left out of the narrative, and Nielsen has also mentioned the need to accept more Chicano art into the collection or at least have discussions about si gnificance in Denver. 59 The exclusion of Chicano art is another example where Latino / Hispanic / Chicano do not necessarily mean the same thing, and although DAM is working with the Latino community at large, Chicanos still feel left out of the narr ative . Also, some in the community argue how much DAM is willing to let the community be the experts rather than curators . 60 DAM is not the only museum struggling with this issue, and as museums learn to navigate in this growing and changing world, so must the staff , and they have to let go of being the expert . Adrianna Abarca is a well known figure within the Denver Latino community , and she has expressed her appre ciation for the ways have worked with the community and asked for their opinions. She has also expressed that sometimes that is not enough. 61 At the end of the day, Abarca feels that there are not enough Hispanics in the museum field ; therefore, the voice of the Hispanic people in museums is still trifling . 62 Abarca would like to see more Hispanics going into the museum workforce to help educate the next generation of museum professionals . The American All iance of 59 Heather Nielsen, interview, November 16, 2017. 60 Adriana Abarca, interview by au thor, Denver, December 11, 2017. 61 Adriana Abarca, interview, December 11, 2017. 62 Adriana Abarca, interview, December 11, 2017.


21 Museums even offer s a Latino Network , the goal of which is to work with other Latino museum professionals and museums to engage Latino audiences. The Latino Network provides professional development and mentorship opportunities for Latinos in the museum profession, along with other positive programs to enhance the experience for Latino employees. 63 Abarca appreciates that museums like DAM are reaching out the community. For the community, h aving a seat at the table is much better than being on the outside . Yet museums can always do more when engaging communities by making genuine connections to help foster a relationship , i ncluding the hiring of more Latino museum professionals when the opportunity arises. Audience building i s of course a goal for all the institutions that are looking towards diverse communities, but how much does a museum need to give for the community to feel that this is their space? For DAM, allowing artists to be stakeholders and allowing them into t he space has been great , according to Nielsen. 64 The museum is continuously working to have Spanish language speakers feel welcomed in its exhibits and programs . DAM committed to a full time Spanish Language and Community Outreach Coordinator who invites Spanish speaking visitors to engage with DAM. The Spanish Language and Community Outreach coordinator works with family audiences, pr ioritizing the need to bring families in and offer a bilingual option, creating a hospitable envir onment for Latino families. 65 However, when it comes to 63 http://www.aam networ ks/latino network. 64 Heather Nielsen, interview, November 16, 2017. 65 The Incluseum , (March 13, 2013), accessed March


22 collecting initiatives , the museum still has a tendency to avoid Chicano art , putting a lot of pressure on the local Latino museum, Museo de las Americas , according to Abarca. 66 Museo de las Americas is another art museum in Denver that saw the shortcomings of DAM and felt the need to create a space where Hispanic art could be collected and interpreted. With the creation of Museo, the need to save every piece of Latino art is a challe nge, but difficult for a small local museum to maintain. DAM has better funding, and the ability to do more outreach, and it is vital that it not rely on one small museum to ensure the safety of Latino art, especially the art that falls into the category of Chicano art. 67 That being said , DAM has actively worked on improving the experience of the Latino visitor to get to this point . Nielsen has enjoyed the support of her board and boss on these relatively new initiatives , which have helped positi ve ly change DAM. As DAM continues moving forward with the work th at Nielsen and her staff ha ve done, I think there will be even better Hispanic based programs and exhibits to see. L ike many other museum professionals currently , they are learni ng to listen more to their advisory board and reach out to more people in the community. Although DAM can work more on the listening part and letting go of control in terms of who is the expert, t here is hope yet for this museum, and the future will be bri ght. 30, 201 8, latino audiences at the denver art museum my first year as the latino cultural programs coordinator/. 66 Adriana Abarca, interview, December 11, 2017. 67 ating our community through collecting, preserving, and exhibiting the arts and cultures of Latinidad in the Americas. Uniting ancient and contemporary works to create an unique experience for ( us/).


23 CHAPTER IV. DENVER MUSEUM OF NATURE AND SCIENCE Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS) is probably the largest and best known museum in Colorado. It is one of the top funded culturals , getting most of its funding from SCFD. 68 The staff a t DMNS has started a community outreach program, which also invites a lot of the other museums to share in the experience of working with the Hispanic community in Denver. These meetings are titled COmunidad, a play on Colorado (CO) and the word community in Spanish ( comunidad) . DMNS has done a lot of work to be inclusive, including bilingual panels and partnering on Dia del Niños with DAM in the past. Recently, the audience and research department has made several strides to work with th e Hispanic community to better understand why statistically this group was not coming to the museum. Through several ongoing meetings, the team at DMNS has apprised the Colorado museum community of their findings and ha s worked on collaboratin g with any cultural institution interested in better reaching the Latino community. 69 Led by Andrea Grion, Director of Audience Research and Evaluation at DMNS, the evaluators found a few interesting insights as to why the Latino demographic in Denver may not come to museums like DMNS. Through their Community Collaboration Project a nine month, twenty person project t he team conducted twelve at home interviews with Latinos from the Denver Metro area who identified as Latino, both 68 c & Cultural Facilities District, last edited 2018, accessed March 30, 2018, i.html. 69 Andrea Grion, COmunidad meeting at Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver, August 4, 2017.


24 English and Sp anish speakers. 70 After analyzing those meetings, the evaluators also met in several public spaces in Denver . 71 DMNS then hosted an all day summit to gather several people from the community to work on making DMNS a more inclusive museum. To bring in so many people at once, DMNS promised child care and engaged with the children , asking them their thoughts on the future of museums. Together the children and DMNS child care created a dream board of what museums can become, engaging them along with their pa rents. 72 After DMNS completed this project , the team came up with eight findings to help better understand this demographic . The first finding showed that people have layers of identity, and that sometimes the stronge st connection was their geographic loca tion rather than terms like Latino, Hispanic, or Chicano. 73 Thus, people can classify themselves in many ways that do not always tie to one specific subject . The second observation was a strong tie to family relations as their social network , an d that spending time with family was valued higher than personal hangout time. 74 The group DMNS conversed with also mentioned the need to find activities that strengthen family ties, spending time with their nuclear family, and getting out of the house ( whi ch was their third finding ) . 75 The fourth was that child focused priorities were important, especially activities that include d physical activity that was healthy , fun , and acted as a break from school. 76 Fifth, welcoming environments for Hispanic fami lies that was fun 70 Andrea Grion, COmunidad meeting, August 4, 2017. 71 Andrea Grion, COmunidad meeting, August 4, 2017. 72 Andrea Grion, COmunidad meeting, August 4, 2017. 73 Andrea Grion, COmunidad meeting, August 4, 2017. 74 Andrea Grion, COmunidad meeting, August 4, 2017. 75 Andrea Grion, COmunidad meeting, August 4, 2017. 76 Andrea Grion, COmunidad meeting, August 4, 2017.


25 for all ages that includes bilingual signs or Latino stories was a leading factor in the activities in which they participated . 77 Sixth, people wanted individual experiences but shared values, meaning intergenerational activities that m om, child , g randma, u ncle, and cousin c ould all enjoy. 78 The seventh finding encompassed nature, science, and technology , which means spending time outside with physical activities. 79 Finally, DMNS learned from the participants that many have been to t he museum before, but that they were not returning because it was outside of their routine. 80 A few months after the summit, the document and listed out eleven action s meant to improve community engagement based on the findings from the summit . The se actions were science for everyone, virtual reality, working with community, indoor and outdoor activities, community leaders perspectiv e, exploring through doing, and in the community. These eleven action items were ways DMNS ha d already included what they learned from the summit into their everyday routine. DMNS ha d kept their work with the community transparent, making it a section on t with other community engagement documents , online in both English and Spanish. 81 After finding immediate ways to improve, DMNS also made a list of action items to hopefully improve the m useum in the future. Also listed on the website, they titled 77 Andrea Grion, COmunidad meeting, August 4, 2017. 78 Andrea Grion, COmunidad meeting, August 4, 2017. 79 Andrea Grion, COmunidad meeting, August 4, 2017. 80 Andrea Grion, COmunidad meeting, August 4, 2017. 81 us/community collaboration project/community updates/.


26 concept that DMNS wants to work collaboratively with the community. The five action items include: re imagining the exhibit Space Odysse y , creating a mobile museum to bring DMNS to the community, asking the community who they should talk with when they exhibit the temporary show The Dead Sea Scrolls and their new program DMNS + STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), a nd upgrading the South Pacific and Australia diorama gallery. 82 The findings from the summit were incredibly useful for museum professionals in Colorado because they showed the values the Hispanic community in the Denver Metro Area had and their thoughts of fun family activities. After the summit, DMNS created a list of ways they can immediately improve upon. Unlike other demographic groups, extra educational activities hold less value among Latinos because they hold activities that are physical, intergenera tional, outside, and fun as more important . 83 also shows that routines help and it starts the conversation of: how do we Possible solutions include going into the community to remind communi ty members of the local museums they can visit. Providing more than just exhibitions and programs, but online resources as well , is another way museums can maintain valuable audience groups . Free days are already a way for non traditional museum visitors to explore the museum . However, sometimes the hectic environment can be a turnoff to people who may enjoy the museum, but not 82 modifi ed September 18, 2017, accessed March 30, 2018, Need Your Help.pdf. 83 Andrea Grion, COmunidad meeting, August 4, 2017.


27 the experience , so c reating more opportunities that allow visitors to have an enjoyable visitor experience is another way to encou rage routine. The more museums remind the community of their existence, the harder it will be for the community not to make them a part of their routine. Museums are still working on answering this question, but the collaborative nature of COmunidad , an d the willingness many museums have to cultivate this audience , shows a step in the right direction to war d creating spaces for the Hispanic community to belong. After the all day summit hosted at DMNS , the team realized just how much more work the museum needed to do to be fully inclusive. The staff did a great job of reaching out the Hispanic community, but they also realized that it was only one group, and that there were many more who were not invited to the table. However, the summit did s how the willingness to open their doors, to listen to the community , and show their want to become a more equitable institution to an underrepresented community group . They also noted that they started this program through personal connec tions, and that it was not fully representative of the community at large. DMNS staff had more questions rather than answers, but their work has started bringing together new ideas on how to better reach community groups like the Latino community. For star ters , going in build a stronger relationship with this community , and we will see another successful example of this in chapter six when discussing El Pueblo History Museum . The concept of meeting people wher e they are works for donors, so why not use that concept to reach out to new audience groups like the Hispanic community? Making special accommodations for the Latino community shows the dedication museums have to


28 develop ing a relationship with Latino audi ences, much like they do when trying to get large donations from high profile donors. Although DMNS still has more work to do , the team has made amazing strides in terms of asking the community why they are not coming to the museum, and what they can do differently to become a welcoming space that they want to come to . DMNS still has plans of doing more workshops that hopefully will provide institutions with more information about how to open their doors and become an inclusive museum to Latinos in Co lorado. Until then, COmunidad shows a positive change in how museums think about inclusivity , and that it is more than one institution s responsibility . COmunidad proves that working collaboratively will create more positive change than working alone.


29 CHAPTER V. HI STORY COLORADO CENTER The History Colorado Center (HCC) , form erly known as the Colorado History Museum , has not always been a place of inclusion. In my youth, I only remember visiting the old museum once with my grandmother and finding it extremely disapp ointing. The rooms were dark, the basement filled with dio ramas, and the stories were about cowboys and other white men who did great things in Colorado. Although exhibits did exist that represented people of color, including American Indians ( Tribal Path s and Ancient Voices ) and Hispanics ( La Gente ) , the museum focus leaned towards well known white figures in history , like Baby Doe Tabor . Even though American Indians originally settled Colorad o and there was a long history of Spanish speaking people, th e museum had little to show for it, or at least that was how I remember feeling when I left. After moving two blocks south about five years ago, the History Colorado Center not only changed its name, but also changed how Coloradans think about history muse um s . HCC l eadership made it a goal to tell more inclusive stories, but still fell short to some . Some representatives of t he Hispanic community , for example, felt there were no exhibitions that resonated with their community. Although HCC tried to tell the story of changing borders, which was a Hispanic and American Indian story, it did not resonate with visitors , or the Chicano Advisory Committee . 84 Thanks to a partnership with the Chicano Advisory Committee that the Director of Education, JJ Rutherford, c reated, HCC learned that the museum had more work to do 84 JJ Rutherford, COmunidad meeting at Denver Art Museum, Denver, November 7, 2017.


30 to be an inclusive space for Hispanics in Colorado. Rutherford then worked vigorously to gain the trust of the Chicano community and enable the community to tell its stories in HCC . Rutherford s aw her chance for a Chicano exhibit when a traveling exhibition called The 1968 Exhibit visited HCC in 2015 . Looking for a Colorado story to fit with the exhibit, Rutherford and the committee worked to tell the history of the Chicano Movement that happened during the same era , which culminated in the creation of the exhibition El Movimiento: T he Chicano Movement in Colorado . 85 have the museum staff be the listeners. Since this was story, they needed to be the ones to tell it. 86 Anyone was open to join the committee, as Rutherford maintained an open door policy for advisors. F or a while people came and went, but eventually a core group began to form . Ultimately , t he committee included Adrianna Abarca, Ramon Del Castillo, Juan Espinosa, Deborah Espinosa, Antonio Esquibel, Emanuel Martinez, Lucha Martinez de Luna, Phil Hernández, Ernesto Torres, Roberto Rey, Ricardo LaFore, Gail Gonzales, Charlotte Gonzales, Carlo s Santistevan, Cecilia Flores, Rita Martinez, Priscilla Falcón, and Nicki Gonzales. Most of the committee members were college professors, activists, and artists (some were all three) who primarily lived in Denver, although a few commuted from Pueblo o r Greeley. 87 To writing the exhibit labels in first as an authoritative 85 JJ Rutherford, COmunidad, November 7, 2017. 86 JJ Rutherford, COmunidad, November 7, 2017. 87 HCC also highlighted the committee in the exhibition space along with online. You can find more information at stories.


31 xperts and this was their story. 88 Although Rutherford had an open door policy, the committee did not represent the whole community , and most of the committee members were still affluent within their community . There were not a lot of regular people who mi ght have been grassroot s activists but work ed a regular job. A reason why these people might not have were retired or had flexible enough schedules to meet in Denver durin g regular business hours . Not everyone was fortunate enough to attend those meetings . When creating community committees, thinking of schedules , realistic meeting times , and the ability to commute and pay for park ing downtown on a regular basis can have an impact on who attends and who does not. Within the Chicano community, I heard complaints about which members of the committee were there and which were not , many feeling like they still did not belong . As seen with DAM and DMNS, HCC started its comm ittee with people the staff knew, which , as in the other museums , limited who came to the table . There were people who surely felt left out of the conversation and were not aware of the committee meetings. The more museums reach out , it will alwa ys be crucial to spread the net further than the time before. Hopefully the community building museums are do ing will assist in making the community feel invited to reach out and work with museums more in the future . If they work together, hopefully there will be less gaps for future community advisories. 88 JJ Ru therford, COmunidad, November 7, 2017.


32 However, t he gratitude the Chicano Advisory Committee felt once the museum opened El Movimiento was outstanding , and that was reflected within the community as well . For the opening celebration, th ere were over 500 RSVPs. The Denver Chapter American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), which maintains an active Chicano working group, helped fund the exhibition and opening celebration. The atmosphere in the room was one of excitement , and a sense o f pride to see the state history museum tell the story of the Chicano people , in their own voice . Although not every exhibit is perfect, the community and advisory board felt that El Movimiento was a success, and a building block to get more stories of the ir heritage into museums. The complaints from that evening were about the size of the exhibit, thinking it could have had more square footage and allowed more explanation of the story. Questions about why the exhibit highlighted some stories over others arose , and having the advisory committee helped foster that discussion and ease community confusion. The committee helped shelter some of the criticisms people had towards the exhibit and bridge d a conversation between museum staff and the community . In the end, people were just happy the museum told their story, and understood this was just the beginning of a Hispanic community and HCC relationship . T his exhibition was supposed to be temporary, but Rutherford continued to work with the committee to create an online component of the exhibit . The online exhibit gave more detail of the Chicano struggle by borrowing content from a previous H istory Colorado exhibition called La Gente , which opened in the late 1990 s by now committee member Deborah Espino sa, former director of El Pueblo History Museum . The online exhibit provide d more detail El Movimiento


33 could tell , including pre colonization from the Spaniards . 89 Adding extra content to the website, along with creating an onli ne digital badge for educators to use , also helped HCC reach a broader audience through its online presence that invite d people to explore the Chicano movement without stepping into the museum . T he museum wa s inside their school or home and allow ed H CC to go into more detail that a physical exhibit could not do . advisory board has proven to work in creating a space where more of the community feels that History Colorado i s their own. Because of the work of JJ Rutherford and History Colorado staff , the committee , and more , the community , thinks of HCC as a space for them to gather and meet, to tell their story through school tours, and on occasion go ing in to schools to disc uss El Movimiento , the Chicano movement. Considering that the exhibit was only supposed to last six months, the temporary exhibit had seen many successes , which included an increase in middle and high school visits, increased general visitation, and positive comments from guests . 90 Because of the popularity of the exhibition from educators , HCC decided to turn it from temporary to a core exhibition in 2017. Through the process of meeting monthly with the committee, the staff at HCC was able to q uickly close the temporary exhibit and build an updated El Movimiento in less than a year. The content stayed the same, but the layout and design completely changed to fit into the new space. The committee approved and helped create the core exhibit , and w ere there for its second opening , 89 Here is a link to the online version: 90 JJ Rutherford, COmunidad, November 7, 2017.


34 with in the exhibit Colorado Stories , at HC C in September 2017. The re opening of El Movimiento was even more spectacular with many Hispanic leaders in the community speaking, including former Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia . approach to working with the community was to listen first , and to become a space for the community to tell their story. Because they did this, the community members have since become strong advocates for the museum. Through this community out reach, funding became possible for this exhibitio n, and the community members now act as guides for school programs and have given the museum a plethora of knowledge. The committee have also become a gateway into diversifying collection t hat hopefull y will enable HCC to tell more Hispanic/Chicano stories in the future. HCC has invited the committee to advise on other exhibitions HCC plans to create , allowing the committee to continue giving advice and voicing their concerns to ensure HCC stay s true to its promise of diversifying the museum. Following the success of El Movimiento , HCC created an Outreach Coordinator position dedicated to continu ing to open doors to other diverse communities to ensure that HCC tell s multiple s tories. Other than just the Hispanic community, HCC is currently working with many American Indian tribes to open several new exhibitions . These projects include an exhibit about Ute Indians , as well as the telling of the story of the Sand Creek Massacre that affected the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes in 1864 . This institution still has a lot of work to do in building trust with diverse communities , but it has done a great job towards building that trust with the Chicano community in Colorado . H owev er, the Mexican American community is large and diverse , and that


35 does not even begin to include other Latino and Hispanic communities , so there is always more work to do . The Chicano community is keeping a watchful eye on HCC and this is important becau se it means the institution has a responsibility to work with them. This include s telling more Hispanic stories to show that the committee members were not just pawns for HCC to check off their inclusi vity box . It i s now responsibility to actively wo rk in creating a better visitor experience where more diverse people are welcome to the museum . HCC needs to become a place where diverse people feel they belong and can see stories that are more relatable to them, rather than only displaying the white mal e narrative that we , as a society , have grown to know and expect . They have taken several steps to ward becom in g that, and hopefully that will not end.


36 CHAPTER VI. EL PUEBLO HISTORY MUSEUM El Pueblo History Museum is a community museum owned and operated by History Colorad o . The museum primarily work s with the local community in Pueblo , Colorado , to connect the public to the history of Pueblo. Director Dawn DiPrince noted that about fifty one percent of P Hispanic , so it is in the best interest of the small community museum to work with the Latino population. Like any small community museum, the role of their institution is to be a place for people to gather, learn, and communicate. El Pueblo History Museum works to do just that . M uch like the Longmont History Museum, El Pueblo is working to serve a community that just happens to have a large Hispanic/Latino population. This does not mean that their actions are much different than the three larger institutions ( DAM, DMNS, and HCC ) b ut it does show that community museums in smaller parts of rural Colorado sometimes have a more obvious need to work with non white communities to stay relevant. El Pueblo , in 2015, received a similar version of the exhibit El Movimiento , from HCC , after the great success it had in Denver. However, El Pueblo work ed with the Pueblo community to ensure the exhibit reflected story of the Chicano Movement. 91 decision tell its story. El Pueblo staff felt like , in that the museum was not the expert but had the power to ensure the y told the Chicano narrative. Working with a community advisory board, along with some members the 91 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed by author, Denver, November 14, 2017.


37 El Pueblo m useum began to create El Movimiento for Pueblo . For six months the museum worked with about forty five local Chicano activists from Pueblo. 92 They met on ce a week, helped inform the stories told in the exhibition, contributed videos, artifacts, images, and later were the docents for school tours. 93 This became yet another example of a museum exhibition becoming the communit s. However, El Pueblo did not stop there. Its staff started inviting more people from the community into their building. They reached out to collect more of the mostly untold neighborhood stories and created the Neighborhood Memory Project. 94 Not only did they open their doors, but they went out to the community to collect these oral histories . As DiPrince has put it, the museum wanted to meet people where they were , 95 The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has also b een toying with this ide a , as discussed in chapter four. The Neighborhood Memory Project collected personal stories about the local neighborhoods to save the communal history. Not all neighborhoods were Mexican American , but there were a few includ ing the Salt Creek neighborhood and Eastwood Heights, better known as D og P atch . 96 El Pueblo, through this project, allowed people to talk about their personal experiences and their relationship with the space they inhabit. It highlighted the need to remember the people who are from Pueblo, who have lived there their whole lives , and to recognize that their story is important and one that the 92 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed, November 14, 2017. 93 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed, November 14, 2017. 94 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed, November 14, 2017. 95 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed, November 14, 2017. 96 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed, November 14, 2017.


38 museum needs to preserve. This project connect the museum with non museum goers , to build a loc al audience, and to meet people where they were . 97 The project allowed the museum to reclaim local history and thread it into a larger historical context , and proved to be 98 In the end , El Pueblo showed the commu nity [ We think ] 99 This was made tangible by increased visitor attendance to the museum, which El Pueblo saw after the opening of El Movimiento and the Neighborhood Memory Project. 100 Attendance almost doubled because of the community wo rk, and it was common for employees to hear my 101 , it makes one stop and think : H ow does a museum keep this momentum? Like all the other museums El Pueblo wants to ensure that it maintain s its positive relationship with this community. After El Movimiento opened, the committee stopped meeting, but DiPrince said they helped in other ways includ ing creating a lecture series where community me mbers could talk about the movement, as well as continue being guides for school field trips. DiPrince also mentioned building relationships formally but maintain ing them informally. That means keeping a personal relationship with the people from the community , and she adds that she has become their friend. 102 In a small community, relationships are 97 Dawn DiPr ince, interviewed, November 14, 2017. 98 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed, November 14, 2017. 99 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed, November 14, 2017. 100 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed, November 14, 2017. 101 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed, November 14, 2017. 102 Dawn DiPrince, inter viewed, November 14, 2017.


39 incredibly important and even though they started out as formal, they have since come alive through the personal relationships that have blos somed from this experience. El Pueblo staf f do not have any plans to stop telling the stories of the Hispanic population in Pueblo, and in fact are already working on their next exhibition, called Borderlands , which will investigate the complex rela tions created by the constant changes of the borders in southern Colorado. This project ties in closely to the public memory of how the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo affected many in this area. Most of the Hispanic population ha ve lived in this area since the mid 1800s . El Pueblo hopes to tell the story of immigration in a time whe n our country seems not to understand the complicated relationship s of our past. To many in the community this story is important because i t can help the Latino youth understand their place in this country not as one to be ashamed of, but as one to be proud of . As 103 Much like the Chicano Movement , the story again inspires. Many of the community members believe that if we can teach the youth about their history, th en they will have a sense of pride instilled in them. That they will work for an education instead of going down a violent path , w hich has become common among Hispanic youth . The work that El Pueblo has done is inspirational. However, I think its success has a lot do with a few factors. One, the staff had a director who was willing to listen rather than be heard. When co mmunity member Rita Martinez came to Dawn DiPrince 103 As mentioned before, th e Chicano/Hispanic community commonly us e this phrase to represent that they are descendants of some of the earliest settlers in the American Southwest, and that borders may change but the people who inhabit the land do not.


40 and told her El Pueblo need ed to do better, DiPrince listened to her. 104 DiPrince worked with the community to tell the stories of the local Hispanic community, create d memory programs so the museum co doors and ears to the issues that the community felt towards the museum. The museum not only became a space for Hispanics to go to but welcomed them with open arms , which doubl ed its Latino attendance. 105 El Pueblo relied heavily on its community members to tell the story correctly, which built trust between the museum and the community . The amount of respect DiPrince had for Martinez and the knowledge that Martinez was putting h erself on a limb to her community, stuck with DiPrince , and she felt a strong obligation to ensure Martinez was comfortable working with El Pueblo. 106 The same thing happened when DiPrince worked with El Pueblo employee Jose Ortega , who was from the S alt Creek neighborhood. He was inviting his job into his home, and it was important to both the project and the museum that the museum do it right . The museum staff knew they would need to use personal connections to get into the community, and that it was their responsibility to protect the person who acted as a bridge and their reputation. 107 By not taking this lightly the staff showed their obligation to the projects they worked on with the community and their willingness to listen and protec t. As DiPrince put it, El Pueblo is an agent to the community . S he says, 108 104 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed, November 14, 2017. 105 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed, November 14, 2017. 106 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed, November 14, 2017. 107 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed, November 14, 2017. 108 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed, Nove mber 14, 2017.


41 El Pueblo is a wonderful example of going out, learnin g, and listening to the community , especially for the Hispanic populations that have been in Colorado for generations; however, there is not a lot of mention for newly immigrated Latinos, or even people who might identify outside of Mexican American. The successes El Pueblo staff have seen are incredible and are truly inspirational for institutions that want to build relationships with Hispanic populations. However, even El Pueblo has more to do to continue working with diverse communities. With the museum has opened the doors to engaging the Hispanic population, but it is important that , much like DMNS, the El Pueblo staff reach out side the networks they already know to fully integrate the Hispanic population in Pueblo. Nevertheless, El Pueblo shows that if an institution genuinely wants to work with community groups , not just for the benefits that work could bring but in order to actually say, we think you are important, it truly is appreciated by the community . The gratitude of the community does come back tenfold, but the authenticity of the whole experience is what makes everyone happy a nd as DiPrince mentioned , not only did they come and visit, but they felt like they belonged. 109 109 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed, November 14, 2017.


42 CHAPTER VII. LONGMONT MUSEUM Like El Pueblo History Museum, the Longmont Museum serves a community that is home to a large Latino population . Yet, the populations within Longmont and Pueblo represent different Latino audiences. In Pueblo the Hispanic population is primarily Mexican Americans who have lived in Pueblo for generations, whereas Latino population has more newly immigrated people from all over Latin America. A reason for the difference in La tino populations between these two cities is that Pueblo once belonged to Mexico where as Longmont did not. Demographically, Longmont breaks down to about 67.2 percent White and 26 percent Hispanic, and there are about 22.4 percent of people who are non English speakers ; but 90.8 percent of people in Longmont are U . S . citizens, which shows that a huge immigrant community in Longmont reach es outside the Latino scope. 110 The Longmont Museum is known to many in the museum communi ty to have successful Latino/Mexican American themed programs and exhibitions , t he most famous being the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) exhibition and program. while they look like th ose of this paper follow a different path. Longmon t tries to stay relevant to its community, which happens to have a large Latino population. What this means is that al though Longmont has successfully built a relationship with the Latino population, the museum is specifically focused on being a space for the community which happens to be primarily Latino , rather than actively 110 co/#category_transportation.


43 trying to work with the Latino population . 111 Nevertheless, Longmont has successfully become a space for the Hispanic population , and has created two programs that have been widely popu lar not only to Hispanics but to the rest of the Longmont community as a whole . These two programs are Dia de los Muertos and the Colorado Low r ider exhibition. As a small museum, Longmont relies heavily on staying relevant to its community. If the commun ity does not find a use for the museum, then the museum has lost its audience base and can no longer operate . As Ann Mac c a, an educator at of its programs . 112 In par t, this is a huge reason the Dia de los Muertos program has been such a success. The advisory committee for Dia de los Muertos is about thirty people including the Longmont Downtown committee , El Comite a group that advocates for Latino rights and individu als who either love the holiday or love the organization . 113 El Comite has been a part of the program since the beginning, almost twenty years ago , and has helped to get more partners to make the experience more authentic. 114 Longmont has also created a Multic ultural Action Committee (LMAC), that works on diverse programming for the museum including Dia de los Muertos, Martin Luther King celebrations, Chinese New Year, Cinco de Mayo, and work to engage the Longmont community and expand the museum s presence t o Longmont citizens. 115 The Longmont 111 Ann Macca, interviewed by author, Longmont, CO, December 26, 2017. 112 Ann Macca, interviewed, December 26, 2017. 113 Ann Macca, interviewed, December 26, 2017. 114 Ann Macca, interviewed, December 26, 2017. 115 31, 2018, http s:// a d/community services department/multicultural plan.


44 Museum feels a sense of obligation to ensure that all experiences they create are authentic . Mac c a expressed that it is important to educate and replicate a genuine experience, but that the museum also want s to repre sent the multi cultur e that is its community. 116 The exhibit is a mixture of traditional and community made altars that people can sign up for on a first come , first serve basis , and a feature artist, usually local, but not always . 117 A pplications open in August, and the exhibition opens in October/November. This process also engages the public more openly and can be traditional or modern. This also achieves the goal of showing the multi cultur e of Longmont. 118 The Dia de los Muer tos program has benefitted Longmont not only by drawing an increase of Hispanic visitors but , often, with middle and high school teachers bring ing their class es to a field trip during the run of the show . 119 The museum usu ally expects to see about 6,000 visitors while Dia de los Muertos is open, which is a huge jump from its regular visitation. 120 Along with Dia de los Muertos , Longmont also created a lowrider exhibition called Colorado Lowrider: Cars and Culture that was open from September 2016 to May 2017 . Longmont curator Jared Thompson worked closely with Louie Lopez a , and families division to find people who were willing to loan their vehicles to the museum for the run of the exhibit , 116 Ann Macca, interviewed, December 26, 2017. 117 Ann Macca, interviewed, December 26, 2017. 118 Ann Macca, interviewed, December 26, 2017. 119 Ann Macca, i nterviewed, December 26, 2017. 120 2018, e m/museum/exhibitions/lowriders cars culture.


45 and work with the museum to help showcase the lowrider culture for museum visitors to understand . 121 The exhibit offered another chance for the Longmont Latino community to highlight a piece of their culture not commonly known, an d allowed the experts (lowrider specialists) to explain the significance of the lowrider cars within the Latino culture. 122 When looking to create new exhibits, Longmont does not necessarily stick to a certain subject matter, like history or science, but var ies since it is a community museum m eaning it usually focus es on community subjects. 123 For the l ow r ider exhibit the staff partnered primarily with the Latino community, and saw that when they partner with th is community they see an increase in visitation from the m . 124 This was especially true at the opening event , when the Longmont Museum had a free car show, Aztec dancers, and a band . The museum saw a huge turnout, according to Macca . 125 A nother way the Longmont Museum attempts t o work with the Latino community is through summer camps . The museum offers several different types of camps for youth , including pop culture, music, visual art, science, and , lastly , Spanish im mersion . The Spanish im mersion camp has students learn in both English and Spanish, inviting both native and non native Spanish speakers to learn together , a s well as to increase their language skills in both. 126 The museum did have a Hispanic 121 Times Call Local News, (September 14, 2016), accessed March 30, 2018, local news/ci_30363392/longmont museum gets low lowrider exhibition. 122 123 Ann Macca, interviewed, December 26, 2017. 124 Ann Macca, interviewed, December 26, 2017. 125 Ann Macca, interviewed, December 26, 2017. 126 Ann Macca, interviewed, December 26, 2017.


46 educational trunk as a resource for teacher s during the school year, but lack of interest from educators and low resources at the museum forced the museum to cut the program. 127 Macca felt that a simple redesign could have saved the trunk, and hopefully she will find a way to bring the trunk back. 128 Longmont Museum is typical of any small community museum, in that it is constantly work ing to stay relevant . A lthough it is a struggle, Longmont has successfully instilled in the community that it is a place that works with Longmont citizens to tell the Longmont stor y i n all its diversity . Even though the museum do es not actively search for a specific ethnic group to focus on , the staff have done a great job opening the doors to the Latino community living in Longmont and have r epeatedly shown them that they value their stories and culture. This is true with the visitation increase for the Dia de los Muertos exhibit , where the museum expects to see about 6,000 visitors within a . 129 Not only do they discuss their cultur e but they try to relate it to the larger context, including looking outward globally . For example, they look at Dia de los Muertos and discuss other cultures that have a holiday or belief that is similar, to show that people may be distances away but that does not mean they are that different from each other . 130 Although Longmont has not actively reached out to the Latino community as an audience base it want s to build, it still has successfully created a Latino base of loyal museum goers. Th e Dia de los Muertos exhibit is annual and expected from the 127 Ann Macca, email message to author, March 20, 2018. 128 Ann Macca, email, March 20 , 2018. 129 130 Ann Macca, interviewed, December 26, 2017.


47 community. Mac c a joked that there would be riots if they ever stopped the program. 131 The program is viewed as Longmont staff we re just working with their community, they are incredibl y s uccess ful at listening as well . The success shows that if museums take a step back and accept the help the y receive, they can become an absolute staple to their community. Now, this does not mean that they do not struggle the rest of the year when they are not doing the Dia de los Muertos event . The museum needs to start thinking about retaining event based visitors as regular visitors. A way to begin is through the classroom. Teachers are already coming every year for Dia de los Muertos, but the museum has other resources that can help them , including the trunk system. B ringing back the Hispanic trunk and other resources can help educ ate students about the Hispanic/Latino history and culture and supplement their Dia de los Muertos field trips. The museum could benefit from having a resource such as LMAC l ook at m ore of the intricate programs the museum does. Improvements to programs like the education trunk and camps could further the connections not only to the Latino community, but to the Longmont community in general . The lowrider exhibit also showed that an exhibit that discusses interesting pieces of culture, not commonly known to the lay person, can also help increase visitation. If Longmont staff can continue making exciting and interesting exhibits tha t include community involvement, they might just crack the code of retaining visitation. As seen , the Longmont Museum is a great example that the community will help if they believe in a project. It is just up to Longmont to ensure that it continue s to listen 131 Ann Macca, interviewed, December 26, 2017.


48 to its community and work with them , and hopefully retain a new audience group that is loyal and will take their famil ies back , generation after generation.


49 CHAPTER VIII. CONCLUSION A community member in El Pueblo who leads tours beli eves that if Latino kids in his neighborhood see El Movimiento and learn about their history, it could prevent gang involvement. 132 Adrianna Abarca, a community member in Denver, believes that if we continue to show Latino children the opportunities that are out there, they will go into the museum profession and work from the inside to create a more inclusive museum field. 133 Although life is not just simply showing a path and expecting Latino children to follow, museums can benefit Latino visitors by exhibiting stories about Latinos , and sometimes by Latinos . T he feelings community members have when museums open their doors and agree to not only tell their story, but actively listen to what they have to say about their past a nd their culture shows the impact museums can have on their community. To become a space open to so many different groups of people and for them all to accept it as a space where they belong is powerful. In a world where the internet exists and everyone ca n access knowledge without leaving their home, it becomes hard to answer the question: W hy are museums relevant? T hey still can be, they must be, because they can bring diverse groups of people together to learn and share culture and history . This paper h as looked at five different museums and the steps they took to open their doors to the Hispanic/Latino/Chicano community. All the museum professionals interviewed said that their museum was better after working with the community. The 132 Dawn DiPrince, interviewed, November 14, 2017. 133 Adriana Abarca, interview, December 11, 2017.


50 community membe rs seem to come to museums once they feel that the institutions genuinely care about what they have to say, and actively showed that what they contribute is significant. Dawn DiPrince and JJ Rutherford from El Pueblo and HCC have stood out in the case stud ies because they admitted to the community , from the beginning, that they were not the experts ; rather , they wanted to learn. B y being vulnerable with the community and open to their knowledge, these museum professionals not only created amazing exhibits and programs, they built genuine relationships with people they might not have before. The museum profession is changing , and diversity is a key to survival. As Nina Simon mentioned in The Art of Relevance , opening the door to other audience groups do es not mean closing the door to traditional audiences, it just allows access to new groups who were not able to access the museum before . 134 Museums need to allow access to other groups if they want to continue to grow and be useful to their communities. As the world changes, grows, and becomes more diverse, it is up to the museums to accurately show the change in the stories they tell, the art they exhibit , and the programs they do. After talking with and learning from these five Colorado museums, it is app arent that these institutions think about relevance daily . They work with communities to broaden their audience base, they discuss tough subjects , and they open their doors to new ideas and concepts with in a safe space , allow ing people to grow in their education but also to have fun. People can use m useums for multiple reasons, and the more 134 Nina Simon , The Art of Relevance , Museum 2.0 (2016), 60 62.


51 museum professionals learn to navigate the multiple identities within communities the more successful they will be. I started this paper because I want ed to analyze the work that museums have done with the Chicano community . W hat I have learned is that it is difficult to put ethnicities into a box and ask a group of museums how they work with them. For starters , the Chicano community is only one piece of the Mexican American community, which is itself one piece of the Hispanic/Latino community. The museums discussed in this paper are doing an amazing job to open their doors to many diverse ethnicities, and the Hispanic community is only one piece of the puzzle. These museums are not just working with Hispanic communities , they are also working with American Indian tribes, African American communities, immigrant communities, and so many more. The future of museums has a chance to succeed if the p rofessionals in this field continue down the path they are on, of opening their doors and admitting when they are not the expert s . This is not to say that mistakes will not happen, and there will need to be a lot of healing for many within diverse communi ties, but I believe museum professionals are finally making a true effort to be inclusive. It will not be easy, and it will get messy, but this is the work that helps keep museums relevant . By sharing the power with community groups , museums have shown the ir willingness to listen and learn , which has made the community respect these five institutions . Once the community members respect you, at least in the five case studies above, they show up, spend time in the museum, feel like they belong, and contribute by donat ing to the collections .


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