Meet Chris Patrello, the new Assistant Curator in the Anthropology Department

POSTED: 01/01/0001

Meet Chris Patrello, the new Assistant Curator in the Anthropology Department

By: Julio Poletti/ @JulioPoletti


Chris Patrello has joined our team as the new Assistant Curator of Anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in 2022. Previously, he was the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow in Indigenous Arts of North America at the Denver Art Museum, where he co-curated the reinstallation of the Indigenous Arts of North America permanent collection galleries, working closely with museum’s staff, Indigenous Advisory Council, 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, Chris researched early ethnographic collections of Northwest Coast and Alaska Native material culture in support of his dissertation project “Indigenous Accounts: Local Exchange and Global Circulation on the Northwest Coast.” Chris’s research interests include exchange systems, anthropological theories of value, critical museology, and digital humanities. Most immediately, he will begin working with our conservators on the IMLS-funded inclusive conservation project focused on collaboration with five Northwest Coast Tribal Nations. In his personal time, Chris is an avid baker, and he worked at a bread bakery during his graduate studies at the University of Rochester. He and his partner Corrin have a dog named Eloise and a cat named Nellie. 

We asked Chris a few questions. 


In three words or less, what would you say your expertise is? 

Museum Anthropology 


Explain what you do as a scientist. 

I study objects in museum collections and try to reconnect them with the families and relatives of the people who made them. I also spend a lot of time working with artists and community members to help teach people about Indigenous art and culture. 

Briggle ceramics at Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art (Photo/Instagram @@c_patrello)

Where did you get your PhD?  

University of Rochester 


What are some of your publications? 

John Lukavic and Christopher Patrello. “’On Behalf of the Family’: A Pole Raising Ceremony at the Denver Art Museum.”  Museum Anthropology Review 16, no. 1-2 (2022): 115-34. 

Christopher Patrello. Companion to Northwest Coast and Alaska Native Art. Denver: Denver Art Museum, 2020.  


Are you working on any current research projects?  

I am currently researching a small collection of objects from Kingcome Inlet, British Columbia. I am interested in developing a deeper understanding of the networks of exchange and circulation that produced the collections, seeking to situate the North American Indigenous Cultures collection within the broader history of ethnographic and fine art collecting in the United States and Canada.  


#youhadmeatspallone; Rochester, New York (Photo/Instagram: c_patrello)

What do you look forward to in your new Museum position?  

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? 

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. 


What is your favorite hobby? 


Listened to some @ilovenickmonaco at work today and this is what happened #eatsleepbakerepeat #bread #househeaven (Photo/Instagram: c_patrello)


Find Chris: 

Instagram: @c_patrello


Learn more about the Denver Museum of Nature and Science's Anthropology Department, here.

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