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Traditional museums are defined by their exclusivity—each piece is painstakingly selected for its historical and thematic relevance. For all the wannabe artists out there, the weekend watercolorists and hobbyist carvers, the dream of having work displayed in a real-life exhibit is nothing more than, well, a dream.
Local art and design aficionado Jaime Kopke hopes to change that. Kopke opened the Denver Community Museum this October as a temporary venue in which anyone can publicly show his or her creations. Her only rule: The submitter must live in or around Denver.
Kopke, founder of the popular Denver-based design blog Designklub, was inspired in part after visiting Brooklyn’s tiny volunteer-run museum, the City Reliquary, which showcases artifacts and collections (such as one woman’s lifelong assemblage of bicycle parts) from borough residents. The Reliquary got Kopke thinking: Why not try this in Denver? “When you go to the DAM and see a 3,000-year-old ceramic pot,” she says, “there is a disconnect. Is it more exciting to see objects in the present day—ones made by people in your own community?”
Kopke secured storefront space near the Millennium Bridge with support from the real estate group East West Partners and home furnishings store Mod Livin’. Each month, she dreams up a new theme for an exhibition and posts it on the museum’s website in a request for entries. October’s theme, “The Missing Map,” called for handcrafted globes representing unusual narratives. Last month, she asked the public to consider that perpetual museum blockbuster—mummification—and to immortalize an object worth preserving. “Anyone of any age can submit,” Kopke says. “I want people to come from all different backgrounds and all different skill levels. They can approach the project from any angle they want. It’s totally open to interpretation.”
There is no cost for viewers to enjoy the Community Museum’s exhibits, and Kopke plans to run everything with the help of volunteers and donations. “By challenging the notions of permanent versus temporary, past versus present, and fact versus fiction,” she says, “this project aims to examine the evolution of a museum.”