Global Village Museum of Art and Culture celebrates community

Zoë Jennings

The Global Village Museum of Art and Culture has been home to artifacts such as a four foot Jade boat from China, a Mongolian yurt replica, a collection of Ethiopian umbrellas and a peace mandala crafted by Tibetan monks.

The exterior of the Global Village Museum
The Global Village Museum, located at 200 W Mountain Ave, opened in March of 2010 as a way to connect Northern Colorado globally through folk art, fine arts and artifacts from around the world. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm and features 4 exhibits and a museum shop. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

For the past six years, the museum has displayed international items all belonging to members of the Fort Collins community.  

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Located in Old Town on Mountain Street, the museum is a non-profit organization and is not supported by the city, according to director LaVon Blaesi. It runs on community donations, gift shop purchases and volunteer work.

Their most popular exhibits have been those that display international nativity sets, Blaesi said.  This year’s nativity exhibit includes nearly 300 nativities built from various materials. Some sets displayed in the exhibit come from places as far as Germany, Thailand, Denmark and Czech Republic.

The museum was conceived by several community members who first displayed their personal artifact collections in the museum. Now, the museum serves as a “home base,” for the community of Fort Collins with international connections or interests. Visitors often point out where they are from on a map displayed in the lobby of the museum, Blaesi said.

a map of the world sit on a wall with pins on it.
A map at the Global village museum has pins where visitors from around the world can place where they come from. (Brandon Mendoza | Collegian)

Although the museum rotates through exhibits, there are several permanent collections including the hall of international textiles and a gallery showcasing miniature, international folk art.

Arthur Santos moved to the U.S. from Brazil this year. He has volunteered at the museum for the past two months. Working at the museum has exposed him to many different cultures that he did not know much about before, he said. The experience has helped him connect with the Fort Collins community. 

“It’s very nice because this is a museum made by the people of Fort Collins so it depends on help from people here,” Santos said.

Arthur Santos sits at the front desk of the Global Village Museum
Arthur Santos, an incoming graduate student at Colorado State University, recently moved to Fort Collins from Brazil with his wife. Santos volunteers at the Global Village Museum to better the community. Santos enjoys how involved students can be in the museum and how the pieces in the museum are from people living in Northern Colorado. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

Janete and Bruce Harshberger and their daughter Jennifer Zachman visited the museum to see the nativity exhibit.  

“We were just intrigued by the idea that people had donated all kinds of things and we thought it would be a homey thing to do and we were really impressed,” Janete Harberger said.

For them the importance of celebrating international culture is important

“We are fighting isolationism from the top these days,” Bruce Harshberger said.

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The museum isn’t too flashy and doesn’t bring in elaborate exhibits from outside organizations. The museum staff and volunteers spend weeks collecting artifacts donated from the community and carefully arranging them. The result is a space that is welcome for visitors to explore culture through art.  

Native American nativity scene
Native American nativity scene at Global Village Museum

“I like the idea of celebrating the world and the people in it,” Zachman said. “Fort Collins has so many folks with so many different backgrounds and nationalities and it’s celebrating everybody, not just one particular group over another. We’re all humans. It’s all of our stories.”

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. The cost for admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students and $1 for children.

The Nativities & Trees:  Global Traditions exhibit will be open until Jan. 20, 2018.

Collegian reporter Zoe Jennings can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @zoe_jennings4.