Transition basics and project updates

Interns working at the Southern Ute Museum separate artifacts and various objects for the Mountain Lion! exhibit.
Tribal Transition Representative, Linda Baker discusses the details of an exhibit piece of the Mountain Lion! traveling exhbit with Southern Ute Vice Chairwoman Lorelei Cloud.
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum

May 6, 2016, the Southern Ute Museum and Culture Center (SUMACc) transitioned from a Board of Director operation to the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Permanent Fund.

On May 21, the Museum opened the Temporary Gallery with the Mountain Lion! exhibit. Mountain Lion! took two weeks to set up. During that time, thirty-three (33) individuals contributed time, muscle, and technical support to an exhibit that will be on display for one year.

Currently, the Museum is staffed with six individuals, including three Southern Ute tribal members, and an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation. The individuals have formal education backgrounds, but most importantly, have experience based on employment at various institutions, including: Animas Museum, Center of Southwest Studies (Fort Lewis College), Mesa Verde National Park, BLM Anasazi Center, Montezuma Historical Center, Wheelwright Museum (Santa Fe, NM)), Swanner EcoCenter (Salt Lake City, UT)), Heard Museum (Phoenix), Navajo Nation Museum (Window Rock, AZ), and Denver Museum of Nature and Science, as well as employment with contract archaeological and contract museum projects.

The Welcome Gallery has four display cases, with each case displaying items from the Museum collection, and each case representing the four seasons.

The Permanent Gallery is being cleaned according to museum standards and techniques. Maintenance on electronic components in the gallery, such as interactive screens, audio recordings, and televised presentations, are being repaired or replaced. Despite not having any items in the display cases, the Permanent Gallery still offers information through photos and large text panels, and remains open.

The Museum Store has been reorganized, and currently offers inventory from the original store. A new retail niche is being determined for the store, including unique items not offered at retail stores in the immediate area.

The Library has been rearranged, offing a space for lecture presentations. The space was recently used by the University of Denver’s Master of Social Work program as a lecture and meeting place for professors, students, and guest presenters. On Thursday evenings, the Library currently hosts a Ute Language class.

The Archive room will be a dedicated project at the end of the contract term. For record keeping purposes, over 800 photos were taken of 2-D photo placards found throughout the Museum; the 2-D placards are technically considered part of Archive. Due to the nature of the project, a general approach will be used, with details to be continued after October 2016.

After Mountain Lion! was set-up, four rooms in the Conservation Suite became the immediate focus. The Curatorial Workshop, Conservation Lab, Vault (collection room), and Mechanical Room were cleaned and reorganized, creating a functional workspace in each area.

While maintenance work and display case cleaning in the Permanent Gallery is being done, work in the Curatorial Workshop will also be in progress. Each item selected from the Museum’s Vault (collection room) will begin the process for display, which includes fitting each item with a custom display mount, and appropriate descriptive labels.

The Southern Ute Museum is located at 77 CR 517, Ignacio, Colorado, just south of the Sky Ute Casino and Resort. For information, call 970-563-9583. The Museum is open seven days a week, 10 a.m.– 5 p.m., and Thursday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Admission is free.

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