A Word from the Director

Reflection on 2017

Welcome to 2018. We at the Museums of Western Colorado (MWC) are looking forward to a very good year filled with exciting events and exhibitions that you are sure to enjoy.

I would like to begin for a moment, however, to reflect on 2017. Overall, this has been a great year for the MWC. Some of the highlights were our well-done exhibitions, including the Smithsonian’s Titanoboa at Dinosaur Journey and David Bailey’s Alferd Packer: Solving One of the West’s Great Murder Mysteries at Museum of the West. Our numerous events were also very well received, judging by the increased attendance at events such as the 30th Annual Dinosaur Day and 12th Annual Two Rivers Chautauqua.

Our public outreach campaign, Discover Together, brought some extremely positive media attention. One antidotal observation of the campaign’s success is that two of the curators (Julia and David) are competing for who has made the front page of the news most often.

Gains in the Museum’s attendance has been another success for 2017. Museum of the West in particular enjoyed a phenomenal 39% jump in visitation. While the year-end numbers are not quite finalized, the year-to-date financial figures show increased revenues in admission, membership, and donations. Overall, the MWC is ahead of budget in net income. 

There are some challenges, of course. Mesa County did reduce their annual contribution to the MWC by 5% last year, a move they did across the board with their own department as well as with other outside agencies. Though this amount may sound small, our Museums operate on a lean budget, so it continues to have a noticeable impact.

One of our biggest accomplishments is the strong team of talented staff that continues to grow. The group that developed in 2017 is fully dedicated to the MWC, supportive of each other, and work diligently to see success, therefore making it possible for the MWC to thrive. Among the veteran staff members are: Don Kerven (Facilities Manager) who has a tremendous amount of institutional knowledge; David Bailey (Curator of History) who has always been a strong asset; Nita Kroninger (Graphic Artist and Web Master) with her exceptional design skills; Denise Yanez (Rental Coordinator) who has reorganized the rental program; Phil Born (BLM Archeologist) whose knowledge of the BLM’s collection is irreplaceable; Erik Vliek (Business Manager) working with Carla Hatch (Office and Memberships Manager/Trips and Digs Reservations) has continued to manage the business accounts and the front office; and the highly valued facility staff including Fred Espinosa, Cecil Wilkinson, and Trudy English.   

Among the staff personnel who have come on board in the past few year are: Dr. Julia McHugh (Curator of Paleontology) who continues to grow in her effectiveness; Erin Schmitz (Curator of Collections and Archives) who is doing wonders in preparing MWC for eventual reaccreditation; Cindy Wilkinson (Gift Shops Manager) who effectively manages a wonderful front-line staff (including Brenda George, Mary Lou Kelly, Seirrha Key); Carly Jones (Curator of Education) who redesigned the education program and has it moving in the right direction; Matt Darling (Cross Orchards Site Manager) who is already making large positive changes to Cross Orchards; and Jennifer Aubert (Marketing and Special Events Coordinator) who has jumped right in with publicity and development. This is the team responsible for the Museum’s wonderful performance over the past year, and my trust in their abilities gives me assurance that we are on the right track.   

There are so many other aspects of the MWC that warrant mentioning—exciting trips, a successful 30th Annual Paleontology Expeditions program, expanding community partnerships, a very effective and growing Board of Directors, new volunteers, and much more, but suffice to say that the MWC was blessed this past year. We now look forward to an even more successful 2018.