Crossroads of Culture
The Front Range of Colorado has served as a crossroads of culture for millennia. More than 12,000 years ago Paleoindian big-game hunters crossed the region on foot. Today, modern air travel connects Coloradans to the furthest corners of the planet in a day’s time.
The anthropology collections at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science record the cultural diversity and history of this remarkable region, but until 2010 there were no publications available that present a comprehensive overview of the collections. My colleagues and I sought to rectify this problem, and our book Crossroads of Culture is the result.
Crossroads of Culture includes a brief history of the Department of Anthropology, summary descriptions the major sub-collections (i.e. American Ethnology, American Archaeology, World Ethnology, and World Archaeology), personal reflections by former curators Jane Stevenson Day and Joyce Herold, and volunteer Ruth Montoya-Starr. The highlights of the book are the more than 100 photographs of historic, archival, collections objects by Scott Dressel-Martin and Rick Wicker.
Thanks to the generosity of two donors and the cooperation of our publisher, the University Press of Colorado, the beautiful, full-color, coffee-table style Crossroads of Culture can be purchased for only $11.95. This means that virtually everyone can enjoy the wonderful collections we curate in trust for the people of the state of Colorado!
The Konovalenko Project
Vasily Konovalenko (1929 – 1989) was a Ukrainian-born sculptor and artist whose remarkable gem carvings may be found on public display only at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the State Gems Museum (Samotsvety) in Moscow.
As a young man in the early 1950s, Konovalenko helped build sets for Swan Lake, Aida, La Traviata, Romeo and Juliet, and other classic ballets and operas. In 1957, while working at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Konovalenko worked on the ballet The Stone Flower. The Stone Flower’s male lead is Danila, an accomplished stonecutter. Although betrothed to the beautiful Katarina, Danila becomes smitten with the mythical Mistress of Malachite Mountain. For the ballet, Konovalenko had to carve malachite jewelry box as a stage prop (Malachite is a beautiful green- and black-banded copper-rich mineral for which Russia is famous.) From that point on, Konovalenko was as smitten with gem carving as Danila had been with the Mistress of Malachite Mountain. Life imitates art.
It is difficult to understand how one might “see” inside a block of stone and predict how the internal structure of minerals and crystals might be used to create dynamic, three-dimensional statues, but that is exactly what Konovalenko did. Konovalenko’s talent is such that he has been compared to Fabergé, another great Russian artist, without a hint of irony or sarcasm.
These beautiful sculptures are worthy of detailed study, so please come to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science to enjoy a truly world-class treasure. If you can’t make it to Denver, copies of my books “A Stone Lives On”: Vasily Konovalenko’s Gem Carving Sculptures at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science are available at www.Lulu.com. A comprehensive volume, Stories in Stone: The Enchanted Gem Carvings of Vasily Konovalenko will be published in May, 2016, by the University Press of Colorado.
Watch this video: Vasily Konovalenko's Gem Carving Sculptures at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
Reserve Area Archaeological Project
The Reserve Area Archaeological Project (RAAP), led by Nash, Dr. Michele Koons (DMNS) and Dr. Deborah Huntley, is focused on the archaeology the mountainous highlands of west-central New Mexico. Remarkably, there has been very little archaeological research in this important area over the last several decades. Working with a multi-disciplinary team of colleagues from a variety of institutions, Nash, Koons, and Huntley hope to refine the understanding of ancient subsistence practices, settlement systems, and adaptation to these challenging environs.