Although the Museum has been a part of the Denver community for nearly 114 years, we continually grapple with this question: How do we stay relevant in people’s lives? Our city’s demographics are changing, families spend their time and money on a wide variety of activities, and each member of the community values cultural opportunities in their own unique way. What we know for sure is that the Museum is committed to offering experiences that create positive and impactful relationships with our visitors.
As I meet with colleagues and partners from across the country, such as during a recent tour we gave to representatives from the Orlando Science Center, I am realizing that we are not the only cultural institution asking this question. Staying relevant in a constantly changing world is a universal challenge in our industry.
As an initial step, we are proactively asking both our guests and those who are not regular visitors what they want, need, and expect from us. We are creating new ways to become engaged with the community and inviting them to help us co-create Museum experiences that heighten our appeal and impact, particularly for audiences that do not comprise a large segment of our visitation.
In April, we hosted our first Día del Niño celebration, in collaboration with the Mexican Cultural Center and the Consulate General of Mexico in Denver. We were thrilled to receive 12,252 guests! The event was an opportunity to develop new partnerships and greet many new faces, and it reaffirmed our commitment to making every member of our community feel welcome at the Museum. We have begun encouraging staff members to wear buttons that identify the languages they speak. Though a small step, we hope it will be helpful to our guests.
Additionally, we are conducting research and trainings to provide the best possible experience for underrepresented members of our community, including children with special needs. We have staff documenting every location in the Museum that could affect a person with sound or light sensitivities. We ultimately plan to find ways to accommodate these particular concerns and offer a memorable, comfortable experience for these individuals.
Our long-term goal is to limit all barriers to enjoying the Museum, eventually bringing the Museum experience directly to your schools, parks, and neighborhoods. This “here, there, and everywhere” mindset will help us become more relevant to our entire community.