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Western’s MGES program welcomes new director

Western’s MGES program welcomes new director

Thiessen-Reily has served as an MGES collaborator and recently added a Public History emphasis, which has museum-studies components, to the History major at Western.

“Dr. Thiessen-Reily will bring her expertise, background in working with her students in museum-related areas, and vision for development and growth in the MGES,” said Dr. Heather Orr, outgoing MGES Program Director.

These developments include potential 3+2 programs in Public History and in the Art History emphasis of the Art Department (where qualifying undergrad students may begin their graduate studies in their senior year), together with a planned Museum Studies professional track.

The MGES graduate program was conceived, proposed and implemented by Orr and then Art instructor Thaddeus Smith, beginning in 2012–in consultation with Art student-research assistant (alum) Natalie Kuenzi, the Art faculty, Western faculty (notably grad program directors and faculty in Anthropology, History and Business), Graduate Studies Council, the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Leaders and established professionals in the field were consulted from the conception through the research and development. Significant contributions were made by Kerry Mason and Dr. Jamie Morton (Kerry Mason and Associates Art Consultants, Victoria, B.C.), Dr. Khristaan Villela (Director of the International Museum of Folk Art, Santa Fe), Shaw Fici (Head Preparator, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington D.C.), and Drs. Peter Booth and David Bailey (Museums of Western Colorado, Grand Junction).

The MGES pilot year was 2016. It is currently heading into its third year with an outstanding group of incoming students. The third on-campus residency and practicum will be held Aug. 6-17, and includes a number of intensive hands-on workshops with visiting professionals, behind the scenes visits to the Aspen Art Museum and other local/regional galleries and museums, and coffee with Western President Dr. Greg Salsbury.

For further information about the MGES program, or to apply, contact Thiessen-Reily at, or visit

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