Behind the Scenes at the DAM

CelebrARTE, a Fiesta Every Month

This past Sunday was my son’s third birthday (¡no lo creo!) and I was incredibly busy planning the party. First, I had to help my son decide what the theme would be (superheroes). Then, I had to think of the party activities we would have in addition to the traditional piñata. (The kids made their very own superhero mask, and my husband helped them launch rockets.) I had to get the invitation out and make sure that I knew who was coming so we had the right amount of food and supplies. 

The morning of the party I woke up on a mission. I had my timeline in my mind, and I knew what needed to get done, in what order, and by what time. At mid-day, I was hanging decorations, making the house look festive, and I had a striking realization. “This feels exactly like what I do every month at work.” As I thought more, I noticed that CelebrARTE is planning a party for our visitors!

We at the DAM are in party-planning mode every month for CelebrARTE. Once a year, we think of festive themes to help structure the program. From there, we are able to invite artists to participate and create activities that connect their artistic talents to the theme while also highlighting Latino arts and DAM’s collections. When the artists and activities are set, my team and I take time to invite as many guests to come celebrate with us. The day of, it is important that my staff and I act as the hosts of the party, just as my family and I did during my son’s birthday party. It is our job to make our guests feel welcome, comfortable, and well taken care of. Whether it is CelebrARTE or a toddler’s birthday party, neither is a success if it is not a wonderful environment for the people that attend. 

I was taught long ago by my family that our guests come first. Mi casa es su casa, but I need to make sure mi casa is a place where you feel the same comfort and joy that I do (or more). That’s how we feel at the DAM. At CelebrARTE, we want to celebrate our Latino cultures and arts and all the DAM has to offer with you, our welcome guests. 

How appropriate that the theme of CelebrARTE this month is Fiesta. I hope you will join us for the party!

Madalena Salazar is the Latino cultural programs coordinator in the education department at the Denver Art Museum. Madalena has been at the DAM since 2011 and her favorite artwork that has been on view here is Mud Woman Rolls On. This piece reminds her of home, family, and community and serves as inspiration for her practice as a museum educator at the DAM.