Museum Treasures

Introducing Casey Mallinckrodt and Chris Patrello


We’re excited to introduce you to two of the newest members of your Museum’s science division: Head Conservator Casey Mallinckrodt and Assistant Curator of Anthropology Chris Patrello.

They work together on a number of projects. They spend a lot of their time working with their science division colleagues to define how the Museum approaches inclusive conservation in terms of how we curate and care for collections items and engage the communities where they came from so that their perspectives are honored and reflected in that process. In addition, Casey and Chris host visiting researchers and artists and are collaborating on a
Northwest Coast collection project, which is funded by a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

I was grateful to sneak in some time for an interview in between all that.

Will you please tell us a little about yourselves?

Casey Mallinckrodt: I am an objects conservator with experience with a wide range of materials from contemporary chocolate sculpture to bronze antiquities. My areas of focus include historic arts of Central and West Africa, of Native American communities and of Ancient Egypt—particularly of painted coffins. I’m committed to working collaboratively within the Museum and the larger community, and love generating learning opportunities for people entering the field.

I got my master’s degree in conservation from the UCLA/Getty program and an MFA from the Yale School of Art. Before I joined the Museum, I was the first object conservator in the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art’s 180-year history.

Chris Patrello: I’m interested in learning more about the ways that people make sense of the material world, how and what they trade within and beyond their communities, and the role that museums can play in helping us engage in our shared humanity.

Before I started here, I was the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow in Indigenous Arts of North America at the Denver Art Museum, where I co-curated the reinstallation of the Indigenous Arts of North America permanent collection galleries, working closely with museum’s staff, Indigenous Advisory Council, and artists and community members from
across North America.

As a Peter Buck fellow in the department of anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History, I researched early ethnographic collections of Northwest Coast and Alaska Native material culture for my dissertation project
“Indigenous Accounts: Local Exchange and Global Circulation on the Northwest Coast.”

When I'm not focused on Museum collections, I’m an avid baker and dote on my partner, Corrin, my dog, Eloise, and Nellie the cat.

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Casey Mallinckrodt, Head Conservator at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

What are you looking forward to in your role at the Museum?

CM: This position is a tremendously exciting opportunity for me on so many levels. I’ll be able to work on collections I have always been drawn to, and I’m working with the great people in our team of conservators, curators and
anthropologists. I’m really looking forward to working with the team to enhance the analytic capacity of the already excellent conservation facilities and bring the community into our work to gain knowledge and to share ours.

CP: In addition to getting to know my colleagues, I am most excited about the opportunity to rethink the ways in which the collection can be activated for originating communities, building strong relationships with community partners in Denver and beyond, and amplifying their voices.

What are you most passionate about in your field or life?

CM: I love the way conservation is interdisciplinary; it requires long hours (days!) of slow careful work as well as collaboration, public outreach and constant learning. My family is, of course, my number one joy, and being out in nature is my pleasure and solace.

CP: Fundamentally, I think the role of a curator and anthropologist is to talk to people from a variety of backgrounds and connect with them in meaningful ways. I have a passion for learning about what is important to people and engaging in our shared humanity.

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Chris Patrello, Assistant Curator of Anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Will you tell us about a project you worked on that made you proud?

CM: I was privileged to work with a conservation-curatorial team at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to carry out the technical analysis and conservation of the collection of Historic Arts of Africa. The close collaboration extended to scientists, scholars, conservators and—importantly—members of the communities the objects came from.

CP: I am really proud of the work I did as co-curator of the Indigenous Arts of North America permanent collection galleries at the Denver Art Museum. The opportunity to work with my former colleagues, artists and community members to reimagine the gallery has been a highlight of my career for many reasons, but most importantly, I learned so much about what it means to be a curator and work collaboratively with a coalition of people that have a range of perspectives, experiences and belief systems.

And just for fun, what are your favorite hobbies?

CM: During the pandemic lockdown I began to experiment by dyeing wool with native (Maine) lichen. I haven’t had time since, but hope to explore Colorado plant and lichen dyes.

CP: Baking. For a visual taste of some of my creations, you can follow me on Instagram @pippo_bakes.

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