Catching up with Kelly Zeiler, class of ’08

We asked Kelly to tell us a bit about her work. Here’s her reply:

A lot has happened since I graduated three years ago: I got married, moved to Denver, and am now finishing up my Masters Degree in Anthropology at the University of Denver.   My concentration is in Museums and Cultural Heritage and my thesis is an exploration of how museums and cultural institutions can be more inclusive of and responsive to traditionally marginalized groups in their communities.  I partnered with a local refugee resettlement agency and have been conducting fieldwork among newly arrived refugees for the past year and a half.  It’s been a really eye-opening experience.  I am continually amazed at how differently my refugee friends see the city that we both live in.  Last month, I got the opportunity to attend my friend, Hari’s, wedding.  She is a refugee from Bhutan and is ethnically Nepali.  Her wedding lasted three days, and I have never ate so much delicious food in my whole life!

When I was not busy stuffing my face with Nepali food, I curated an experimental exhibit, with the help of my wonderful advisor, Christina Kreps. at the University of Denver’s Museum of Anthropology (DUMA). It was titled,  “Making Home: Civic Dialogues on Where We Live and How We Live Together” and didn’t use any artifacts from the museum’s collection.  Instead it explored processes of place-making among refugee and non-refugee citizens of Denver through a series of discussion-based workshop in which participants created “artifacts” that were left in the gallery space.  My very favorite part of the exhibit was the gigantic chalkboard that invited visitors to share their thoughts and beliefs about home with one another.  Overall, it was a successful experiment; one that we hope will change the way future Master’s students go about curating exhibits at DUMA.

In July of this year, I accepted a full-time position as the Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Denver Firefighters Museum.  I am getting tons of practice in oral history interviews with retired Denver Firefighters and have gotten the chance to create several educational programs as well as temporary children’s exhibits that directly address risks and needs in the Denver community.  It’s a pretty sweet gig, and I feel really lucky to have found a job!

 I hope all is well with all of you.  Keep on keeping on!

 Kelly Zeiler Lynch

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