Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisa Hatchadoorian.
Lisa, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have been involved in the arts in some form my entire life. I began as a ballet dancer from the time I was eight midway through high school and at some point, maybe when I was ten, I started playing the flute. Those passions led me to a dual major in the college of art history and music at the University of Virginia. I went straight up to New York City after graduating and after doing some internships and jobs in the arts, I decided to go back to graduate school for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. I’ve worked in all different sectors in the art world over the past twenty years: corporate art at Pfizer, Inc, academia at Rowan University (Glassboro, NJ), where I was the Director of the Westby Gallery on campus, public art coordinator for the city of Urbana in Illinois, Curator for the Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper, WY and most recently, Executive Director at the Museum of Art Fort Collins since late 2014.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It always seems a windy path for some to get to the heart of your interests and in the art field, this was no different for me. I knew that I didn’t have the talent to be an artist but I loved the arts in general and visual art for what it could tell you about the world and yourself from different perspectives and someone else’s point of view. I loved how art objects were imbued with such history and culture over time and could be such sounding boards for the individual and the collective across cultures and hundreds of years. I hit some dead ends with different jobs and internships, where I knew the culture or the organization was not right for me. I had many years of angst when I realized that I wanted to transition from curating into becoming a director but I ultimately followed the questions that I was asking myself further down the road. I started to become more interested in the role of museums in our towns and what role they had to play in smaller, regional locations for being a focus for broader cultural conversations, social contact, education and ultimately, their lack of neutrality under the guise of being neutral.
Museum of Art Fort Collins – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I run the Museum of Art Fort Collins, which is a regional art museum founded in 1983 and exhibits local, regional and national artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. It is situated in a gorgeous 1911 Post Office building right in the heart of Old Town Fort Collins. The museum does not have a permanent collection, so like the MCA Denver, we do a series of 5-10 rotating exhibitions a year. Our most popular exhibition ever has been the 50 Greatest Photographs from National Geographic, which was a year ago in late 2019. We hosted over 10,000 people in 2 1/2 months for that exhibition. I am most proud of broadening the scope of the museum’s offerings to encompass programs that enhance the visual art experience such as Artist to Artist House concerts that pair current exhibiting artists with regional musicians for an evening of music and conversation, enhancing our exhibitions with free-flowing dance performances and poetry workshops. I feel that we are such a strong institution for being in a town of 160,000 in terms of our programming, events and our stability as an institution.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success, for me, has gone through change as well over the years. When I graduated from graduate school, I thought that if I wasn’t a glamorous, jet setting, global curator, that I was a failure. At heart, I have always been an explorer, which is why I think I’ve done so many jobs in different sectors of the art world. At present, success for me is knowing that I am contributing something invaluable to my community. The visual arts are hard in Fort Collins as we have a lot of competition from the outdoors, the breweries and the huge depth of live music here that all compete for everyone’s leisure time and dollars. We have had much success during my tenure in growing our membership by over 40% and our yearly attendance by 40%. To me, it’s less about overall numbers but more the individual experiences from kids and adults in how they experience the art that we bring in that gives me the most satisfaction and pride. The feeling that this museum is in our town? Wow!
- $5 adults, $4 students/seniors, $1 youth 7-17
- Address: 201 S College Ave
Fort Collins, CO 80524
- Website: www.moafc.org
- Phone: 970-482-2787
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @moafortcollins
- Facebook: @MoAFortCollins
For the 3 Masks photos: PHOCO – Patrick Edmiston
Image of me (art of the garage tee shirt): NOCO Style