Three New Virtual Exhibits at McNichols Tell Stories of Prison, Healthcare Workers and Japanese Healing


Denver Arts & Venues is a Denver organization responsible for operating some of the area’s most beloved events centers. For over 20 years, they’ve aimed to enhance Denver citizens’ quality of life through art, performance and entertainment.  Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, the Denver Performing Arts Complex and the McNichols Civic Center Building are just some of the many venues that it oversees.

However, the organization has seen some hard times due to the impacts of COVID-19. It recently announced the closure of many of its event centers and personnel layoffs. But true to its nature, the agency wants to uphold its mission regardless. In response, the McNichols Civic Center is opening three new virtual exhibits.

Listen — a virtual experience 

Sociologist and former counselor Maureen Hearty is the mind behind “Listen,” an auditory exhibit.  The exhibit was originally developed as an old-fashioned physical phone booth for visitors to stand in while the audio played.  Since adjusting to a new virtual format, listeners everywhere can access the audio from their homes during the pandemic.  Hearty initially features stories by men who’ve spent large portions of their lives incarcerated, incorporating both their childhood and crimes.  Subsequently, she weaves in other personal testimonies “full of perspective-bending experiences.”

These intimate insights provided by the subjects are prime examples of the voices that Hearty works to uncover.  “Listen” aims to show that  “all people are worthy of respect, and capable of insightful life philosophies that teach us about empathy and gratitude, no matter who they are and what they’ve done.”  

Listen to their stories here through September 30.

Women of Color on the Front Lines

Exhibit, Virtual, Experience, Audio, Gallery, Art, Coronavirus, Prison, Healthcare, Women of Color, Kintsugi, Japanese, Pottery

Portrait of Tori Robinson by Nancy Prendergast, courtesy of McNichols Civic Center Building

McNichols’ second new experience features portraits that recognize women of color working in healthcare during the pandemic. To start the artistic process, the subjects submitted photos of themselves in the PPE they’re required to wear. The exhibit creators then worked to recruit local artists to turn each photograph into a completely unique work of art.  Various mediums and artistic techniques make up the gallery, including paint, pencil and pastel.  The virtual viewing experience aims to spotlight their incredible contributions to the fight against COVID-19 in addition to the heroic acts they perform on any given day.

Click here to view the gallery remotely until July 2021.

Kintsugi: The Art of Healing, Finding Beauty in Repair 


Exhibit, Virtual, Experience, Audio, Gallery, Art, Coronavirus, Prison, Healthcare, Women of Color, Kintsugi, Japanese, Pottery

Courtesy of McNichols Civic Center Building

The third virtual experience holds special significance due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.  The Japanese art of Kintsugi explores some of the life experiences that can make us feel broken, and more specifically, how we deal and cope with them in different ways.

Ancient Japanese tradition physically manifests this idea by repairing broken pottery with gold or other precious, decorative metals.  By making the cracks into something to celebrate, not mourn, Kintsugi reframes tragedies, sorrows and tribulations into works of art.  In other words, “Kintsugi teaches us that through the process of repairing the cracks between our broken pieces, we build resilience and strength.  Our beauty shines through the cracks that might be perceived as weakness.”

“Kintsugi, The Art of Healing, Finding Beauty in Repair” is part of a partnership with Japanese Arts Network. They hope to “share with the Colorado community opportunities to learn about ways to find peace and healing through the arts while exploring multiple ways of discovering beauty in imperfection.” This exhibit features works of arts, videos of the process as well as a series of workshops. These “lunch hour” events take you through healing and mindful practices that range from matcha and dumpling-making to dance and karate. 

Explore the “community Kintsugi virtual quilt” and more Kintsugi content here.  Click here to view the full McNichols website and browse for yourself.