When you meet Wanda, our spotlight volunteer, you will immediately be taken in by her warm personality and gracious manner. A volunteer with the Museum for almost 13 years, Wanda and her husband moved to Colorado to retire after time spent in Houston and their native Minnesota. Wanda spent 35 years as a teacher and loves history. In Houston she had been a docent at the art museum but upon moving to Colorado discovered that it was extremely difficult to get into the Denver Art Museum’s docent program.
Not wanting to be bored in her new home, Wanda began to look around for other things to do. Her love of history led her to the Molly Brown House Museum. Wanda has always had an “interest in the interesting people who populate the history” in any place she’s lived. In Houston, Ima Hogg loomed large while here in Denver, it was Margaret Brown and the story her ascent into society that pulled Wanda in. When I asked Wanda what she likes about being at the Museum, she told me that she loves history and that “if you can tie anything to a good story, you can make it meaningful.”
She also loves the setting and how you can connect with people telling Margaret’s story or the story of the house. In particular, Wanda likes the stories about Margaret navigating her way through a different level of society from the one she was raised. She also loves the historical photos of the family displayed in the second floor hallway. She noted that if you look at the photos you could pick out family similarities both within and between generations.
Like so many of our guests, elements of the house remind Wanda of childhood memories. When we chatted she mentioned the carpeting in Margaret’s bedroom reminding her of the living room carpet of her parents house. Not that they were the same, but that they had similar leafy patterns and styles.
I asked Wanda is she had any particular stories of volunteering at the house that really stood out in her memory. Like most of us who work with the public, the most outlandish guests tend to stick out in our minds. She recalled a group of women who looked “ridden hard and put away wet.” The staff that day told Wanda that they recognized the women as being high on something. The woman tended to stray away from the group, and shortly after they left, gum was found on the furniture in an area where one of the women had disappeared for a bit!
On a sweeter note, Wanda said that it was exciting when a friend or acquaintance turned up at the Museum while she was volunteering. One day she went out on the front porch to find a family from her church in Longmont waiting for their tour. She noted that she was, “glad people I know come here.” Wanda also noted that most guests who come here are interested making her task as volunteer an easy one.
Recently, a guest commented that Wanda “was incredibly delightful, kind and knowledgeable about the history of the museum artifacts.” This is a perfect description of Wanda and we so appreciate the care and thoughtfulness she brings to her work at the Museum every time she’s here.
By: Kim Popetz, Volunteer & Events Coordinator