#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, 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.

museum front facade 2020

The Museum occupies two buildings, a main building and the smaller Annex. The Annex 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. In line with the Museum’s mission, the intention is to honor the visitor’s own experience of the objects on display as much as or more than what others—including artists, curators, and critics—have to say about them.

Most of the objects in the Museum fall easily into one of three collections: lithographs, woodcuts, and other prints made in the mid-20-century primarily by Colorado and New Mexico artists and depicting landscapes and Native American subjects; handmade and other utilitarian objects, 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 have appreciated your interest, encouragement, and support beyond measure.

Thordis Niela Simonsen

303.585.1783 voice/text