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MCA Denver: A photo essay.

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BC: It goes without saying that the work of the executive staff, Adam Lerner (Director and Chief Animator), Scott Anderson (Director of Development) and Sarah Kate Baie (Director of Programming) is evident in all of the basic functions of the museum. Without them, none of the specific duties and functions shown throughout this album would be overseen and accomplished. | REFERENCES: Glaser, J. R., & Zenetou, A. A. (1996). Museums: A place to work, planning museum careers. New York, NY: Routledge. Schlatter, N. E. (2008). Museum careers: A practical guide for students and novices. Walnut Creek, CA: Leftcoast Press. | MCA Denver. (n.d.) History and Mission. Retrieved from

FC: a photo essay | MCA DENVER | juliane dowell | MARCH 3, 2012

1: is a 27,000 sq. ft. museum dedicated to "the art and culture of our time through rotating exhibitions and public educational programs." (MCA Denver, n.d.) It features changing artists and frequent public programming, offering visitors, and members like me, a unique experience every single time they come. I chose to take pictures here for this very reason, and because "MCA Denver is an innovative forum for contemporary art that inspires and challenges all audiences, creating understanding and dialog about the art of our time." (MCA Denver, n.d.) | The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

3: Because MCA Denver is such a small institution, the very entry way displays evidence of the work of myriad staff members, the most obvious being that of the Andrew Lynes, Visitor Services & Shop Manager, who both "oversees... training [the museum shop's] staff and monitoring its public relations style," (Glaser, 1996, p.116) and is responsible for "crowd control... [and] ensuring that visitors have a positive and educational experience." (Schlatter, 2008, p.94). Upon arriving at the museum, one speaks with either the volunteer staff, or one of the two Visitor Service Associates employed by the museum. They aid in ticketing, membership, and museum shop sales. Coordination of this staff might be the work of | William Sawyer, the Volunteer Coordinator, Also, because membership is offered here at the front desk, the work of Victoria Hagar, the Membership Manager, is evident. The Development Officer plays a role in the fundraising efforts shown to the right, too.

4: OPEN SHELF LIBRARY: Artists are asked to represent themselves and what inspires them on a shelf in the MCA Open Shelf Library. This would take some coordination on the part of the Curatorial Staff and the Exhibition/Installation staff, since the artists represented change on a regular basis. Because MCA Denver has no permanent collections, there is no need for a Collections Staff, or an Archivist. Visitors are also able to research more about the artists represented at MCA on any of the three computers in the library, evidence of a Technology Manager, or at least a technical support staff.

7: The computers in the Open Shelf Library, as well as this interactive setup that visitors can use to listen to Vinyl Records (brought by the visitor), could be examples of the work of the Coordinator of Programming & Fictions, Ama Mills-Robertson. Or, because the institution is so small, it is possible that these types of visitor interactive activities fall under the duties of the Curators or Exhibitions Staff who are directly involved in the development of exhibits, and the corresponding artist-background displays. It could also be accredited to the Visitor Services Manager mentioned earlier, as is the picture below, as it falls within the realm of assuring a positive experience for the visitor..

9: Because the exhibits in the MCA are constantly rotating, Nick Silici, the Installation & Facilities Manager, must be busy! Installation and Exhibition staff constantly need to design new ways for art to be displayed. The walls in the middle of the room as displayed to the left are temporary for example. This is evidence of the work needed to install certain exhibits. Also, I noticed that the track lighting is very important to this institution, forethought shown by the initial interior architects and designers. The building is quite contemporary, offering several issues with uneven natural light (below). These are all considerations taken by the Exhibition staff when planning and installing a new exhibit.

10: The architecture of the MCA Denver building compensates for the difficulties of installation with this large entry way disguised as a window. The Installation &Facilities Manager, Nick Silici most likely uses this entry way when installing large pieces of artwork. This is particularly convenient for a museum that changes all of its exhibits so frequently!

12: More work for the Exhibitions Department The display spaces in MCA are small, and so all parts of an exhibition need to compliment each other aesthetically. The display to the right was a creative way of complimenting the geodesic dome above, which itself was a creative way of projecting an informative movie. A sign on the wall acknowledged the work of Ben Griswold, Exhibition Design Consultant, for his "important contribution to the design of the exhibition."

15: MCA Denver uses technology frequently in its displays, more evidence of the hard work of the Exhibitions Development staff and Technology department. From projectors and head phones, to movies, and even this Sony touch screen device to the right, technology adds an extra level of planning for Exhibitions, especially when it comes to installation and upkeep.

17: MCA Denver boasts a beautiful rooftop café, often rented out for events. The couple above is planning their wedding, meeting with Erin Algiere, the Special Events and Rentals Manager. I also think the work of the Facilities Manager is evident in assuring that events do not interfere with the other functions of the museum.

18: The Rooftop Café itself employs several important museum employees, including Amelia Carley, the Café Manager. who needs to manage things like liquor licenses, health codes, general restaurant management, and hiring. There are also a plethora of Café associates employed by the museum. This may also fall into the realm of Development, as I am sure it is a large part of the income for the institution.

21: MCA Denver focuses heavily on their "green initiative." The museums was initially established as "the first dedicated home for contemporary art in the city of Denver.... [occupying] a renovated fish market in Sakura Square in lower downtown Denver" for seven years before the completion of the new building in 2007. (MCA Denver, n.d.). The current building has a strong "green initiative" as displayed by "green" toilets, the discounts for "green" transportation, and this award displayed in the library. This is the work of Architect David Adjaye of Adjaye Associates, and Philanthropist Sue Cannon, the original founder of the museum who created its mission and outlined its "green" goals.

22: I noticed in several visits to the museum that there are no volunteers or staff members that oversee activities designed for children. Because of this and the known lack of an Education department, I credit this to Exhibitions and Devepment.

23: The Coordinator of Programming & Fictions, the Curators, the Installation & Facilities Manager, and the Visitor Services Manager all most likely work together to cover the duties of an Education Director. This room on the roof of the MCA Denver is dedicated to activities for children, often having one of more crafts set up relating to current exhibits. Furthermore, the tent set up in the corner of the play area (right) relates directly to the current exhibit, The Cockettes & The Angels of Light.

24: The exhibit "Thinking About Flying" is set up on the roof of MCA, and features Homing Pigeons that can be taken home by visitors and released such that they will find their way back "home." While I cannot find any evidence of an Animal Husbandry specialist in MCA's staff directory (, it is clearly a duty that must be performed by an employee of the museum. Also on the rooftop, basic landscaping and maintenance is evident in the beautifully designed and well maintained planters.

26: MCA Denver employs an in-house Graphic Designer, Alex Stephens, who is responsible for the printed materials and signage throughout the museum.

27: Signs promoting lectures and upcoming events are also evidence of the work of Sarah Kate Baie, Director of Programming, Ama Mills-Robertson, the Coordinator of Programming & Fictions, and Luc Hughhart, the Special Events Fundraising Manager.

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juli dowell
  • By: juli d.
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  • Title: MCA Denver: A photo essay.
  • Johns Hopkins University Exploring Museum Professions Professor Redell Hearn by Juliane Dowell
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  • Published: about 6 years ago