Colorado governor lauds programs at the Aspen Art Museum |

Colorado governor lauds programs at the Aspen Art Museum

Colorado Govenor John Hickenlooper addresses a crowd Friday at the Aspen Art Museum during an event to celebrate the museum's 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Services.
MarySue Bonetti / Special to The Aspen Times |

Gov. John Hickenlooper praised the Aspen Art Museum’s programs as an “incredibly powerful gift to the state” during a speech Friday at the museum’s rooftop cafe.

The downtown museum hosted Hickenlooper, Mayor Steve Skadron, local civic leaders and its community partners to celebrate winning a 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The award is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for outstanding community service.

Gov. Hickenlooper said the museum — which opened its new building in 2014 — is an emblem of Colorado’s rich cultural offerings.

“The building itself has become a symbol around the country,” he said. “It allows Aspen to be seen in a different light. And when Aspen is seen in a different light, Colorado is seen in a different light.”

The Aspen Art Museum is one of 10 winners from across the country. Director Heidi Zuckerman will receive the award in a ceremony at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. on July 17. Joining her will be Samuel Bernal-Urbina, vice president of Entravision Communications, which runs the local Spanish-language radio station La Tricolor 107.1 and partners with the museum for its Arte en Espanol program.

Zuckerman outlined the programs for which the museum is being honored. Among them are Arte en Espanol, which provides art making and appreciation both at the museum and through broadcasts on La Tricolor.

The museum also hosts programs for elementary school students within a 100-mile radius of Aspen (its museum educators, Zuckerman noted, each drive an average of 5,000 miles per year going from school to school). It produces tailored art-making for students on the autism spectrum and those with physical or developmental special needs. The museum also works with caregivers at local assisted living centers for seniors, inmates at the Pitkin County Jail and young people struggling with substance abuse at the Youth Recovery Center.

Gov. Hickenlooper noted the immense influence the museum has had on the cultural life of the Western Slope, touching underserved communities and reshaping Aspen’s reputation in the process.

“Having the ability to spread art and culture on the Western Slope, this is an incredibly powerful gift to the state,” Hickenlooper said. “The next chapter in Aspen and Pitkin County’s evolution is a place that continues to grow and is becoming more than a place people go on vacation. It’s a place people come to think.”

And, looking out at the idyllic mountain scenery surrounding the museum’s rooftop cafe, Hickenlooper couldn’t help but gush: “I feel like I’m on a picnic!”

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