2018 Viola Award Finalist for Community Impact (Organization)
The Arizona Historical Society Pioneer Museum, like many history museums, tells stories based primarily on the collections that were started by the wealthy community members of the town. The staff at Pioneer Museum recognized that there was a large portion of Flagstaff history that was not being told and has worked towards changing that.
Museum Operations Technician Breann Velasco took the lead to reach out to the Hispanic community, listen to their stories and curate the current exhibit Todo Unidos: The Hispanic Experience in Flagstaff. This exhibit shares these stories through artifacts, photographs, personal mementos, and direct quotes from oral histories.
It is a work of art that has gone beyond the walls of the Pioneer Museum. Velasco worked with volunteer Amelia Swann to create a complimentary exhibit Todos Unidos: Los Chantes in the West House of Riordan Mansion State Historic Park. She created a small exhibit for Celebraciones de la Gente at Museum of Northern Arizona and another exhibit that is on display in the Flagstaff Public Library for the month of December. Velasco has presented her research, sharing these stories at the Pioneer Museum’s Night at the Museum, Westerners Flagstaff Corral, Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, Coconino Community College, and Northern Arizona University Hermanas United for Change. The exhibit will also be featured in an upcoming issue of History News, a publication of the American Association for State and Local History.
Arizona Historical Society partnered with Flagstaff Nuestras Raices, NAU Cline Library Special Collections, La Plaza Vieja Neighborhood Association, and many other individuals in Flagstaff’s Hispanic community.
In addition, technology has been incorporated into the exhibit with additional information available through Facebook posts, the Cuseum app and Geocaches to learn more about the various communities.
Todo Unidos has made the Arizona Historical Society Pioneer Museum more relevant to the Flagstaff community and its visitors. Visitation has increased and the number of school children coming to the museum for programs this Fall has nearly doubled.
“I dedicated a section of the exhibit to celebrate Hispanic pioneers, which is called ‘A Visible Legacy.’ Each pioneering family provided us with a keepsake photo, a contemporary photo, and a small biography of their family. I wanted this area to honor the families who have been here for generations, and are still in residence. This section continues to grow as the exhibit remains and as connections with the Hispanic community are continuously made.”