MCA Announces Animating Museums Creative Leadership program

March 8th | Press


Two year leadership program will advance creativity among museum professionals, and better address the changing audiences and attitudes in the 21st century.

DENVER, CO (February 2, 2017) –  The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver) has been awarded a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The $400,000 grant will establish Animating Museums, a two-year leadership program for art museum professionals nationally, who will to come to Denver to advance their professional development through a series of creativity workshops. The grant allows MCA Denver to redouble its efforts, greatly expanding its innovation platform while investing in the future of art museums and their ability to adapt to changes in contemporary society.

Animating Museums launches as the exemplary museum creative leadership program. MCA Denver will implement a competitive process to choose 14 creative museum professionals to be in residence in Denver beginning summer 2017. They will remain in the program and return to Denver annually for the duration. Working with outside experts and MCA Denver staff, the program teaches innovative thinking through a combination of theory, coaching, and practical application. The fellows will have the opportunity to create a real world project from conception to execution.

“We are so excited be able to realize the Animating Museums program, which will help groom the next generation of creative museum professionals,” said Adam Lerner, Director and Chief Animator at MCA Denver. “However, we are even more excited to see the fellows implement their ideas with a creative project on a civic scale, testing established conventions for art programming and audience engagement, while learning from creative leaders to take risks and be more imaginative in the way they work, live, and contribute to their communities.”

Animating Museums will involve both on-site and online meetings over two years. It kicks off with a ten day residency in Denver, where fellows learn the fundamentals of creative programming, establish individual creative professionals goals, and work with real goals and budgets to agree on a capstone creative project that exemplifies a fresh approach to museum programming. The following year will consist of a series of webinars focused on both the capstone creative project and the fellows’ progress towards their personal goals; culminating in a five day residency in Denver centered around the capstone project. Year three finishes with the unveiling and execution of the fellows’ creative project, taking the form of a large scale festival or similar activation.

“We are thrilled that MCA Denver has been singled out for this prestigious grant from the Mellon Foundation,” said Mike Fries,  MCA Denver board chair and CEO of Liberty Global. “This investment allows us to expand the impact and reach of MCA’s programming nationwide and strengthens our position as the cultural heartbeat of Denver.”

“MCA Denver receiving this Mellon Foundation grant is another example of Colorado institutions and businesses being at the forefront of creativity and innovation,” said Governor John Hickenlooper.

Animating Museum fellows will be chosen through a formal application process over the next several months. Interested museum professionals are encouraged to apply. Application criteria and timeline will be available at


Founded in 1969, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. Additional information is available at


The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver) explores the art and culture of our time through rotating exhibitions and public educational programs. Featuring international, national, and regional artists, MCA Denver offers a wide range of exhibitions promoting creative experimentation with art and ideas. Through adult and youth education programs and other creative events, the museum serves as an innovative forum for a culturally engaged community.


Ryan McGinley: The Kids Were Alright, February 11, 2016–August 20, 2017

Basquiat Before Basquiat: East 12th Street, 1979-1980, February 11, 2016–May 7, 2017

Wall Writers: Graffiti in its Innocence, February 11, 2016–May 7, 2017



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