Museum opens this weekend

Thordis Simonsen works on the final touches at the Museum of Authenticity Monday. The museum will welcome the community to its inaugural open house and artist reception this Friday through Saturday. 


After 7½ years of work, Thordis Niela Simonsen will host the Museum of Authenticity’s inaugural open house and artist reception Friday though Sunday. 

“It’s thrilling beyond measure,” Simonsen said. “This has been a labor of love and I’ve invested a huge amount of sweat equity, among other things, into this project. It’s time for a celebration.” 

The museum is located at 124 E. Second St. in Salida. 

Bernice Strawn will be the event’s featured artist and her exhibit, “Sum of the Parts,” will showcase her wood assemblage pieces in the museum’s main gallery. 

Two other exhibits will also be on display. 

The Greek room will have a range of handmade utilitarian objects that Simonsen has acquired during her 40 years of living in and traveling in Greece. 

A third exhibit, “Dances in Two Worlds,” will be displayed in the museum’s annex. 

The exhibit is named after a wood assemblage sculpture by Michael Mrowka and features three linocuts by Dine (Navajo) youth as well as lithographs, wood block prints and other works by Colorado and New Mexico artists dating to the first half of the 20th century.

To reach the annex, people will walk through the museum’s garden, which Simonsen called “a little oasis in the city.”

The open house will be held from 3-7 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Saturday ad from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday. 

Strawn will be at the museum from 3-5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. - noon Saturday and from 11 a.m. - noon Sunday.  

The event is free, but contributions are welcome. 

No food or beverages will be served at the reception to help it adhere to COVID-19 regulations. 

Traffic will also be limited and be one way, but Simonsen said it’s a chance to move through the exhibits and get an an introduction to the museum. 

“We’ll be mindful of people’s health and also let people know the museum is here, she said. 

Simonsen said she’s devoted to encouraging and supporting the viewers’ own response to the work they see. 

One way she does this is by not putting labels with titles on the wall by pieces, choosing instead to make them available on a reference sheet.

“For me, I’ll never speak with authority about what an artist is trying to present unless it’s my own work,” Simonsen said. 

As far as the museum’s name, Simonsen said she’s thrilled by curiosity the name has generated, but she doesn’t consider herself as the museum’s curator or as an authority on authenticity. 

“My hope is the name will raise questions and generate discussions about the meaning of the term authentic,” she said. 

The museum’s shop is also now open, featuring graphic note cards, books and prints that Simonsen has created. Her book, Dances in Two Worlds: A Writer-Artist’s Backstory won a Colorado Book Award for creative Nonfiction in 2012. 

She said the museum doesn’t have established hours, but that she’s around a lot and she has her phone number on a sign in the window that’s currently acting as the doorbell. 

She said people can call her at 303-585-1783 to make a reservation or just show up and call. 

Simonsen said she personally endowed the museum, and is thrilled to finally welcome people inside it. 

If people can’t make the opening event, Simonsen said she hopes they’ll visit soon. More information about the museum can be found at

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