#116 (detail), 10/27/05, oil pastel, 14 x 11 in. ©Thordis Niela Simonsen

Thordis Niela Simonsen
#116 [detail], oil pastel, 2005, 14 x 11 in.

Museums are the custodians of epiphanies.      —George Lois

The Museum of Authenticity is taking shape in historic downtown Salida, Colorado. The idea for the Museum presented itself—I was not looking for it. That said, throughout my adult life, I have hoped to leave behind something of value to others—the Museum is my legacy.

At the same time, the Museum is significant to me personally. A writer, I express myself on the printed page. A visual artist, I express myself on “canvas.” The Museum challenges me to create something meaningful through the selection and arrangement of two- and three-dimensional objects in three-dimensional space. This process will allow me to harmonize the various aspects of my rich, rewarding, and sometimes challenging life.

The Museum will occupy two buildings, a main building and the smaller Annex. The Annex received its much-anticipated certificate of occupancy on 2 January 2018. The Museum of Authenticity officially opened six months later on 21 June, the first day of Salida Art Walk 2018, with its first exhibit, Dances in Two Worlds. Once renovations of the main building are complete, the Museum will offer multiple exhibits and programs in line with its mission to focus on the visitor’s own experience of the objects on display as much as the nature of the objects themselves and what others, including myself, have to say about them.

Most of the objects in the Museum fall easily into one of three collections: lithographs, woodcuts and other prints, primarily by Colorado and New Mexico artists, made during the first half of 20th-century and depicting landscapes and Native American subjects; handmade and other utilitarian objects, many from Greece; and my own works on paper. Of course, each object on display tells a unique story. The epiphanies proliferate when multiple objects are assembled into clusters that seem unusual and unexpected.

I invite you to follow the Museum blog for answers to questions that occur to you—and others you might not think of. For example, I will write about the name, “Museum of Authenticity.” It was given to me—I did not invent it.

I also invite you to support the Museum by becoming a member; by purchasing the creative nonfiction books, graphic notecards, and archival ink prints available at the museum shop; by inviting me to speak at your book club, an organization you are affiliated with, or a house party you host for the Museum; or by joining a small group of like-spirited travelers for an excursion in Greece operated by astragreece inc.

Making manifest the dream of a Museum of Authenticity tests my capacity for patience, persistence, and trust more than any previous endeavor. I welcome and celebrate your interest, encouragement, and support now while the Museum is being created and after the doors to the main building swing open in the spring of 2020.

Thordis Niela Simonsen