Denver Museum of Nature & Science
RMCPC Service: Culture Change & Program Development
Size: 350-400 employees, 1700 volunteers
Budget: $38 million in Operating Revenues
DMNS wanted to empower their community. But they realized that they were not serving all perspectives--particularly in the Latino population and other communities of color. So they established the Community Collaboration Project to forge a new, more inclusive museum vision. But since the museum didn’t yet have a relationship with that particular community, they weren’t sure how to make that happen.
RMCPC applied Appreciative Inquiry process designed around three principles:
One Relationship at a Time - A perspectives mapping exercise helped DMNS partner with a core DMNS member group who had connections with the outside community. Together, they determined the right practices for authentic and intentional invitations and engagement.
Culturally Competent Questions - The core group designed and piloted test an appreciative inquiry survey, conducting interviews, leading small group conversations and organizing events.
Collaboration for the Vision: We facilitated a family-friendly community forum, including participant art exhibits, focused on creating a vision that’s culturally relevant and meaningful to all the communities DMNS serves.
After RMCPC’s work with DMNS, four important results emerged
- A renewed emphasis on the role that cultural stories should play in the museum exhibits and experience.
- The redefined DMNS vision statement: “DMNS collaborates with communities to support and create diverse and meaningful experiences around exploration of the natural world, both beyond and within the Museum’s walls.”
- Dynamic museum initiatives, including Colorado-crossing museum van, a new outdoor space and a first floor redesign.
- Greater internal capacity for inclusive planning, positive engagement, inquiry and visualization.
- Internal changes, such as a strength-based hiring process, a focus on shared leadership, efforts toward a magnetic work environment and an evolution of donor outreach.
Working with the Rocky Mountain Center for Positive Change our Museum was able to craft a successful culturally responsive community engagement strategy. Throughout the process they were our partners – flexible and understanding of our unique needs and working with us to craft a process that brought our communities – new and old – together, with an approach that was inviting, energizing, and left people with a sense of belonging and collective purpose.
George Sparks, CEO of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science