Museums are the custodians of epiphanies. —George Lois
The Museum of Authenticity, an intimate museum of art and culture, opened on 16 October 2020 in historic downtown Salida, Colorado following over seven years of planning and construction. 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.
The Museum is significant to me personally, as well. 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 occupies three buildings. The Main Building at 124 E 2nd Street houses MoA’s exhibits and a museum shop and provides access to MoA’s gardens and small Gate House. Back to back with the Main Building, the Annex at 119-B E 1st Street houses MoA’s larger shop, office, collections storage, and Thordis Niela Simonsen’s art studio. The Gate House received its much-anticipated certificate of occupancy in January 2018 and officially opened six months later with its first exhibit, Dances in Two Worlds. The renovations of the main building were completed in October 2020, and opened with Sum of the Parts, an exhibit featuring wood assemblage sculptures by Salida’s beloved Bernice Strawn. The Annex on 1st Street opened in December 2021.
Most of the objects in the Museum fall easily into one of three collections: lithographs, woodcuts, and other prints made in the mid-20th-century—primarily by Colorado and New Mexico artists— that depict landscapes and Native American subjects; handmade and other utilitarian objects and folk art, primarily 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 making a contribution; 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.
Creating a Museum of Authenticity that I only recently and unexpectedly envisioned tested my capacity for patience, persistence, and trust more than any previous endeavor. I continue to appreciate your interest, encouragement, and support beyond measure.
Thordis Niela Simonsen