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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Museum Of Friends

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Museums

Mission: The Museum of Friends' mission is to "honor the artists who have freely given art to the museum's founders thereby establishing its collection. MOF honors art and celebrates the generous artists who made possible and gave form to its existence. MOF's primary goals are to foster the open inquiry necessary for a cultural education and its ideals through exhibitions, public and educational programs, while sharing an extensive reference library and permanent collection to bring economic development and job creation to Huerfano Couny.

Results: MOF has been a force of change in Walsenburg since 2005. The grand opening in 2007 drew community members and visitors from up and down the front range looking for alternate social activities to engage in. Since then MOF has organized over 30 changing exhibitions, continues to grow the permanent collection as artists from around the world donate their art works to be part of this unique museum. Children from the area and young tourists participate in the art programs at MOF and at their schools and centers. The "School-Tour" program is the first in the area that encourages children to express themselves in an art museum while learning new skills - the emphasis is STEAM.

Target demographics: Discover the Art History of Southern Colorado with an understanding of contemporary art and the social implications of change through education

Geographic areas served: Walsenburg, Colorado

Programs: Changing Exhibitions of Regional and National Artists, Public and Educational Programs, STEAM for children (pre-K through 12)

Community Stories

35 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We always enjoy our visits to the Museum of Friends and make sure we encourage our Denver friends and neighbors to stop off at this I-25 exit when they are headed south. Visits often include entertaining and informative tours and great conversations with Brendt and Maria. Here’s a museum that is so much a labor of love by its directors and volunteers and a wonderful example of how an arts organization led by committed artists and administrators, grows into a valuable resource for small communities such as Walsenburg. The art collection includes work from coast to coast, their curated shows are of high quality and include local history, Colorado artists, and theme shows.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The MOF is one of my favorite museums and that's saying a lot! I have visited at least 100 museums of various types in the US, Mexico, and Europe--and worked in the museum world for over 30 years.

So why five stars? Because the MOF is a colorful, dynamic innovative and genuine experience about local and national Counterculture people, art and movements. Everyone on staff has a great story to tell about the museum, it's programs, the building, and about Walsenburg, the diamond-in-the-rough town that is dusting itself off and starting to shine without losing it's quirkiness.

For the full experience, plan on at least two hours and call in advance to to make sure Maria is available for one of her famous tours and if you want to hear Brendt talk about Colorado Counterculture and his Hawaiian-German family history, and see his by-appointment-only collection of family heirlooms and Pacific tourist art.

Paula Manini
Trinidad, CO


Board Member

Rating: 5

I've visited the MOF many times over the past six years, both as a tourist living in Texas, and more recently, as a Colorado resident. I'm impressed and and delighted by its wide-ranging collection, its special exhibits, and the wonderful staff and volunteers who make the museum stimulating and inviting. It's clear the MOF contributes significantly to its community and the region.

1 Bob K.4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

When I first had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Friends (MOF) I had no idea of what I was in for. What I experienced was jaw dropping! I never would have expected such an extensive, varied, and high quality collection of art in our rural sparsely populated county. But here it was, right before my eyes. We already had several fine art galleries in the area, however, the MOF took us to a whole new level.

Then, as I was approached and guided by the owners of this collection, their knowledge and ability to discuss the art revealed what a unique gift was in our midst. Brendt and Maria (MOF proprietors) continue to be not only strong advocates for the importance of art, they also strive to be ongoing community outreach ambassadors bringing art to the people of Huerfano County and beyond. The MOF is critical to our efforts to grow as a community devoted to arts and culture. For MOF not only benefits our quality of life, it benefits our economy.

Bob Kennemer

Dick F.1

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Museum of Friends is unique in that it accomplishes five extremely important goals: 1) it provides a home for a permanent art collection of exceptional quality open to the public; 2) it organizes, curates, and displays changing art exhibits themed to local and national interests; 3) it provides art classes for the community's school age youth; 4) it anchors the community's downtown core by being an important visitor attraction; and 5) it saves and restores an old, architecturally significant, downtown commercial building important to the history and character of the community. The Museum of Friends is a gem - a must-see experience, and a non-profit eminently worthy of support.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

A wonderful collection of art representing local artists, then and now. The museum actively supports art programs in the region. A great community resource. Go visit and see for yourelf!

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As the founder of The La Veta School of the Arts (LVSA) in 2000, I have welcomed the Museum of Friends (MOF) to our small county in South Central Colorado. Our goals have been similar from the beginning: “to administer quality educational experiences in the arts for people of all ages, emphasizing creativity, originality and personal expression”. Together, we have been able to offer a stronger format for the appreciation of the Arts to everyone. While LVSA’s emphasis has been on the creation of art, the Museum of Friend’s emphasis has been on the display and appreciation of art. Together, we have been able to transform our small Colorado county in ways that have never happened here before. LVSA could never have had as huge an impact by itself. The Museum of Friends has been invaluable in this regard. We wish MOF a long life and many more happy returns.

Peggy Zehring President and Director of LVSA

2

Donor

Rating: 5

I believe art should be encouraged, accessible and for everyone. It has been an honor and joy to show my work at the Museum of Friends and to be a part of their ongoing efforts to be the source and encouragement that brings beauty, creativity and imagination to the people of their community. Kasume

2 Richard P.5

Client Served

Rating: 5

Been a fan and a supporter of MOF since it first started and love the exibits and the way it supports the community and all the children who live there plus the artists who live and work in the community been a joy to watch it grow to become a major influnce in the town of walsenburg . The love and devotion of brent and maria is a tribute to their museum of friends

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

To spend a while at the Museum of Friends is to be repeatedly surprised by the caliber and quantity of contemporary fine art produced and preserved locally. When about in the Rocky Mountain Southwest, the last thing one expects is an abundance of contemporary art. Nonetheless, this region has a long history of counterculture and associated artistic expression, and museum curators Maria Cocchiarelli-Berger and Brendt Berger are extremely knowledgeable about thar history and are happy to share it while walking through the hallways of densely-packed artworks In the Museum of Friends.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Museum of Friends (MoF) in Walsenburg, Colorado is a unique and delightful find in so small a rural Colorado community. The incredibly committed and energetic founders regularly host shows of local artists' work as well as fabulous exhibits they secure on loan. Art classes for children and community members working through the judicial system are a godsend to an underserved population. And the community at large is welcomed with wonderful programs including live musical performances, plein air artists, lectures, art-related movies, and a gift shop where local artists can sell their work. MoF is a jewel in our tiny town of Walsenburg and it improves the quality of life for residents as well as our many visitors!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Museum of Friends is such a VITAL aspect to the community ! The staff is smart, friendly and truly loves the location in Colorado. They contribute so much more to the area than the community can contribute back. It is a Stellar museum and long overdue for the credit it so
richly deserves . The museum has an Online Virtual Tour to view their collection . The Board and Staff Members realized the impact and importance of creating and documenting an exhibition dedicated to the Covid-19 crisis. The Museum of Friends is a gem!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is a fantastic gem in Southern Colorado. The permanent collection contains some truly great, surprising works from contemporary and "outsider" artists across America. The frequently changing temporary and traveling exhibitions are always interesting, bringing glimpses of the wider art world by artists of all backgrounds. Well worth a visit - and worth return visits to see new exhibitions.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Museum of Friends is unique in the scope of its work and its unlikely location in our small southern Colorado town in Huerfano County. It is a joy to have Brent and Maria, its founders, bring contemporary art on such a scale to the people of the Huerfano. The work they have done to support local artists as well as the art work of their friends from far flung places is an immense undertaking. Their expertise and contacts with others in the art world is mind boggling. Just as impressive and perhaps longer lasting, they have brought the love of making art to the young people of our community through classes and their devotion. It is a nonprofit worthy of the highest rating.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This Museum has a unique vision, unique collection, and strong partnerships with community organizations to bring art in the community in various interactive projects.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This museum is an asset to the small community. The projects and classes for adults and children are so valuable. MOF has brought exhibits and artist to a small remote community where there is little access to such experiences. I am so grateful it is in my home town.

1 Paul V.1

Donor

Rating: 5

This is WONDERFUL place, because of COVID I was able to visit the museum virtually. This was absolutely a great experience!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This place is best place to visit in Walsenburg. A visit here will change the way you see and understand art... especially if you have the opportunity to talk with Maria or Brendt. If life is about experiences and memories then you are ripping yourself off if you don't stop in for a visit. Seriously!!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband built a house in Navajo Ranch 25 years ago. We travel there from Denver about once a month. On our visits, we try to support the local businesses: a movie at the Fox, groceries at First Choice, a meal at Tina’s, coffee at Daily Perks, but we had never been to the Museum of Friends (MoF) before last December. That’s when we decided to attend the Museum’s gala to see what it was all about.
On a tour of the upstairs art collection, led by Brendt Berger the Co-founder, we were dazzled by his stories and the quality of the donated artwork. I owned an art gallery in Denver years ago, so I knew the importance of what I was seeing. When he showed us a framed drawing of a tumor on a prescription pad done by his doctor, I realized that Brendt sees art everywhere and I love that about him. He and his wife Maria came here with a big art idea for a small town. Against all odds, they made it work. Perhaps they were drawn by or inspired by the continued passion of the Libre art community, still alive after 50 years.
Weeks after my first guided tour, I invited a friend from Pueblo to come visit MoF with us. An art teacher, she had painted the well-known chili mural on the wall of a downtown Pueblo building. Her standards are very high. When she walked around openmouthed “oohing “and “aahing at the collection and Brendt’s stories, I knew I had not exaggerated the importance of this collection.
Then, I brought a couple of friends from Manhattan, members of the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, who also have very sophisticated taste, and they were duly impressed.
My book club of writers and artists then came down for a weekend and I led them to the Museum of Friends. They were also awestruck by the quality of art gathered there.
After each visit, the same conversation ensued. Someone needed to capture the MoF’s story for posterity. It is an oral history of a time and place, the roots of abstract expressionism, a counter culture movement, and a philosophy of art for arts sake. But more than that, it is a story of relationships with people committed to and passionate about art, not about selling, just creating it.
I approached Brendt and Maria with the idea of putting together an audio tour which could expand to an archive. They loved the idea. So began the year of learning how to do something I had never done before, the year of getting to know Brendt and Maria, the year of seeing up close the relationships they have nurtured, the year of watching them give back and pay it forward, the year of observing them, recording them, and nagging them, the year of trying to cut Brendt off after two minutes of recording (If you know Brendt, you will appreciate the arduous task there), the year of hearing Maria’s travails in dealing with one challenge or another, the year of witnessing their kindness, compassion, understanding, and commitment to their community.
While recording their stories, I have laughed and been brought to tears. This audio tour will not be like any other museum tour; it will not be just about the artists or an interpretation of the piece, it will be about relationships, people, connectedness, friendships, and love.
Brendt and Maria brought this passion to the people of Walsenburg years ago and continue to do so today. Marias art classes for children inspire a love for art and creating. I know this has not been easy for them financially. Constantly chasing after grants and funding, they face many obstacles. Even so Maria and Brendt have never lost sight of their vision or their mission.
I am proud to be a part of this educational and informative project that we hope will bring more folks to Walsenburg, to appreciate art in all its guises, and the beautiful community and Colorado landscape here.

2 Jennifer Sanchez M.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Museum of Friends is a museum of beautiful and unique art, located in a rural community, Walsenburg, Colorado. The passionate owners have dedicated themselves to provide a state of the art facility for generations to come. We partnered with the Museum of Friends (MOF) many years ago. Our partnership began with a desire to work with children and their families. MOF provides unique opportunities for children to explore and learn about art. An example is the beautiful garden boxes which are displayed within the community showcase the children's ideas. In addition, they host beautiful art shows; which are unique, local, diverse and beautiful. If you get a chance, stop by check out the gift shop and the art. You will enjoy a suburb establishment and meet exceptional people.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 4

What superb growth the Museum of Friends has made as it has now become central to the community of Walsenburg Colorado! Beginning with the improvements to a large historic building on Main Street, every room on both floors is now dedicated to teaching or exhibiting, free art library or meeting space that relates directly to the needs and aspirations of local citizens. This marvelous result came only with their participation and a leadership eager to advance the arts in many capacities that draw the entire community.
A coal town is not the easiest place to introduce an outstanding collection of visual art. The leaders soon realized ways to bring creative expression into the industrial character of Walsenburg. Starting with afternoon drawing and painting instruction after school for primary and intermediate ages as well as showing their work in year-round celebrations, families with little initial interest in the arts gradually discovered the opportunities and relevance of how art could enrich their lives immeasureably. Special holiday evenings brought volunteers to invite friends, dance groups, storytelling and actors to experience a new sense of communal enjoyment. Art pursuits at the Museum of Friends has included mining, the planting and painting of the boxes now standing outside many shops, and one-man shows in all media. Watching this progress has been a joy for all.

2 Monica B.4

Board Member

Rating: 5

Here we live in a small community in Southern Colorado where there are few cultural resources and then Brendt and Maria brought their work and the work of their friends and created the Museum of Friends. The people of this community can be inspired any day of the week by amazing art; original works of art by artists from around the country that could only be seen in famous art galleries in big cities! Against all odds, with very little support available in this second poorest county in Colorado, they have persisted and continue to provide it's citizens with the opportunity to learn and experience the beauty of art.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The staff at the Museum of Friends are friendly, knowledgeable, and dedicated to helping the community. They host free art classes for children and my 5-year-old and 3-year-old were able to attend and paint animals which were then placed on flower boxes that brighten the Main Street in Downtown Walsenburg. Every time we drive downtown our children are so proud that they were able to be a part of their town's beautification. I would definitely recommend the Museum of Friends for anyone who has not been, young or grown it has something for everyone!

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Very well respected non profit that is committed to the community!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

On a recent break from the monotony of I-25 we wandered into the Museum of Friends. When we walked in we were greeted by the staff and Brendt gave us a tour of the collection on the second floor of the museum, Brendt had a story for each of the artists whose work was displayed which made the visit that much more interesting and personal. Be sure to see the "Hawaii Room", I will not tell about it here, it is something you have to see and experience for yourself.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Great promotion of local artists as well as bringing in fantastic art. Great educational and cultural promotions which involve introducing children to art

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This is undoubtedly one of the most unique and surprising art museums I've ever visited. Don't let the ground floor put you off; the real show is on the second floor, which is absolutely crammed full of contemporary art given to the MOF's curators–contemporary artists themselves with impressive cred–over a lifetime. Hence the name Museum of Friends.

The collection is wildly diverse, so there really is something for everyone. By taking money out of the equation with their museum, Brendt and Maria have created a space where the true value of art–the formation of community, memories, and the reflection of a place and time–can be experienced. Plus they're helping to preserve a rapidly disappearing part of Southern Colorado's past, the art communes of the 1960s, which were way more important and significant than I ever realized.

If you're even casually interested in art, Museum of Friends is a place you absolutely must visit.

2 Duane C.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

A wonderful place in Walsenburg to stop and see. The people who run this place definitely know art! I have never in my life seen so many inspiring artists all in one place. Your eyes and your brain will be stimulated for many hours.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Can you believe it?First thing you see when you come through Walsenburg is the flower boxes,when I stopped at Museum Of Friends(,an actual museum with local artist and international),the first thing you hear is about1.)beautification of Walsenburg through local youth support with the adopt-a-box programs.2.)The History of the building and what MoF is up to at this point.3.)MOF is the first ever Counterculture of Art in the whole USA.After you are blown away by that information,they prove this statement by taking you on a tour upstairs,which is by far the best museum of art,I have ever seen,not because of the eye candy,it's the stories of about a.the artists(friends of both Brendt and Maria)b.the art and historical value(both the area and Mof itself),so it's more or less a interactive museum.The museum holds more than 600 pieces of art with 600 hours worth of stories (I dare you to find any other museum in USA that has that kind of distinction).Everything is personal and surreal.My proof,be here or be square,the Libre 50th is a plethora of information about an ongoing artist commune and modern to antiquative art slash sculptures.The Libre exhibite runs through September 30th,2018.MOF is worth the nonprofit status.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Museum of Friends is always a colorful, interesting, and informative place to visit. The staff is indeed friendly and welcoming to local people as well as visitors from far away. I like to go there when I come to Walsenburg, easily accessible from I-25.

2 Natan S.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The MOF is a stop for my dad every time he passes through southern Colorado, and I finally had the pleasure of joining him on his visit to Walsenburg. The diversity of the collection, hospitality of Maria and her husband, and the strange and wonderful history of the museum makes it a must-visit.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Museum of Friends has been in Walsenburg for 12 years. On October 28, 2017 they will celebrate the 10th anniversary of delivering quality exhibitions, children's programs, adult lectures, films, artists' series and musical events. As an anchor for the community, the Museum of Friends has encouraged other creatives to move to this beautiful town to enjoy reasonable studio rents, beautiful weather, friendly people and close proximity to the Great Sand Dunes, Lathrop State Park, Cuchara, La Veta and Trinidad. MOF is nationally recognized as the first museum of counter culture art in the United States. In the 1960's Drop City began in Trinidad (38 miles south of Walsenburg) as an alternate artist community that then influenced the founding of Libre (25 miles west of Walsenburg) and many nearby ones as well: Triple A; Archuletaville; Red Wing; the Hog Farm; and others. The museum has changing exhibitions on the ground floor and the permanent collection, resource library and artist in residence quarters on the second. Since opening to the public the museum's mission has been to bring quality of life experiences for youth and adults, for people with disabilities and those who are economically disadvantaged.

6

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Museum of Friends is a fantastic place to visit. This is a two story building located in the small town of Walsenburg in southeast Colorado. When I stopped in there was an exhibit for Drop City, a commune established south of Walsenburg in the 1960's. There were many artists displaying their work, some of them original inhabitants of Drop City. I then went to the second floor to view the permanent collection and I was very impressed with the variety of art in the collection. I learned the permanent collection was made up of art donated to the founders of the museum by artist friends over the past several decades. The collection contains paintings, water-color, sculptures and photographs and it was a treat to spend time viewing several hundred pieces of art by artists from all parts of the United States. If you are ever near Walsenburg, I'd suggest you stop by the Museum of Friends to enjoy the wonderful pieces they have. In addition to the museum, they have a gift shop featuring artists and crafts made by residents of the community. Take time to stop by the Museum of Friends, it will definitely be time well spent.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

I live in Taos, and drive past the Museum of Friends regularly when I visit Denver. This last time, I decided to stop in and am glad I did. All these times I drove by I had no idea what I was missing. This is an amazing Art Museum that has a collection of Contemporary art from many parts of the world. To find such a jewel in Walsenburg, is unbelievable, I would suggest next time through stop in and you will be amazed to. Coleen M

9

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My family owns a second home in a small town called Walsenburg in Southeastern Colorado. The town is located on the I-25 corridor and lies at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on the prairie or "High Plains." The town was once a thriving commercial center for coal mining and ranching. Now the town has
been depressed economically for over two decades. A wonderful and dedicated team of artists have opened a local museum called The Museum of Friends. They have beautiful exhibition space and have hosted a number of impressive exhibits per local artists such as Dean Fleming and Charles Parson to name a recent double presentation. The museum also offers art classes to children in the community and has created outreach programs to the local schools. They need financial support. They need people to help them put themselves on the map. Please visit The Museum of Friends in Walsenburg, Colorado. Founded by Brendt Berger and Maria Cocchiarelli. Please visit www.museumoffriends.org and SHARE!