Museum’s ‘4000 Year Road Trip’ sparks interest

The Journey began Wednesday night in southeast Denver at a reception attended by Denver’s mayor, but it actually has been 4000 years in the making.

Denver Mayor Bill Vidal and his wife Gabriella join Larry Mizel, left, in toasting the Mizel Museum’s new exhibit “4000 Year Road Trip: Gathering Sparks.” Mayor Vidal, an immigrant from Cuba, said the exhibit reminds people that, “As we discover someone else’s journey and reflect on our own, we begin to understand that the things we have in common with one another are a lot more valuable than the things that divide us.”
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Gabriela and Mayor Bill Vidal and Ellen Premack, executive director of the Mizel Museum.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Larry Mizel makes a toast “from my heart to all of you who are here tonight and to our community, which is everybody, to reach out to all races, to all cultures to all religions.”
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Artist Scott Lyon gets a chuckle out of the gag gift he received which said, “I built a 4000 Year Road Trip and all I got was a lousy t-shirt.”
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Denver District 4 City Councilwoman Peggy Lehmann and state Rep. Jim Riesberg, D-Greeley.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Roz Duman, founder and coordinator of the Colorado Coalition for Genocide Awareness and Action, with her new husband.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
One of the exhibits showcases the Jewish holiday of Chanukah and different examples of the Menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum that is one of the oldest symbols of the Jewish people.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Denver Mayor Bill Vidal congratulates Museum founder Larry Mizel as Cantor Joel Lichterman stands in the background after affixing the Mezuzah to the door of the exhibit.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Denver Mayor Bill Vidal and his wife Gabriela are both engineers and said they enjoyed looking at the girders and the HVAC system at the museum.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

Those who shared in the opening night of “4,000 Year Road Trip: Gathering Sparks” were treated to a dynamic exhibit of art, artifacts and installations that illustrate, narrate and celebrate the Jewish journey.

It isn’t totally dissimilar to the journey of a young Cuban boy who immigrated to the United States when he was just 10 years-old and was sworn in as Denver’s mayor last month — nor for his wife Gabriela, who left her native country of Chile for our country when she was 18 years-old and is now first lady of Denver.

“Where this is special to me,” related Denver Mayor Bill Vidal in his remarks at the Mizel Museum’s new exhibit, “is I’m an immigrant myself. It is important to tell our stories, share our stories so we can reflect on the beauty of our own life journeys.

“As we discover someone else’s journey and reflect on our own,” the newly sworn-in mayor said, “We begin to understand that the things we have in common with one another are a lot more valuable than the things that divide us.”

That has been one of the main missions of the Museum throughout its 30 years, the last eight which have been at the 400 South Kearney St. location.

As museum founder Larry Mizel explained Wednesday night, their theme has been to “reach out to all races, all cultures, all religions because we believe together, especially in this country, we share unbelievable opportunities as we raise our families and as we see in other parts of the world how tenuous life and freedom is.”

The exhibit was developed by the Mizel Museum in collaboration with artist and designer Scott Lyon and includes rare objects, the works of renowned photographer Zion Ozeri, fine art from artists from around the world, and the Community Narratives Project, a compilation of digital stories.

Vidal said the exhibit also extends “opportunities for visitors, no matter their age or background, to come to understand the important concept of what respect, tolerance, diversity, and understanding means to all of us.”

Vidal added, “What is particularly wonderful for the two of us to be here, is to celebrate another fantastic exhibit in the Mizel Museum. This is a great jewel in our city,” Vidal said. “The Mizel Museum has graced Denver as a landmark for 30 years and has earned a permanent place as one of Denver’s cultural attractions.”

“I’m an engineer and people think the extent of our art appreciation is when we put color on concrete, but it does go beyond that,” the mayor said. “And I want to assure you we will work with all of you to make Denver the creative capitol of the West, a city known for its urban design, entrepreneurial spirit and cultural environment.

“Creative activities and exhibits such as this really add to the quality of life and is critical to our economic growth and stability,” Vidal said.

“We welcome you to our community,” Mizel said to Vidal, “and we’re very pleased that under your leadership — for some duration yet to be defined — we will prosper.”

Mizel recalled the beginning days of the museum when it was housed at the BMH Synagogue on three feet of wall space, later becoming a paid tenant with a long transition. The museum has grown into many areas of the community, Mizel reminded, with more important activities in the making with the City and County of Denver. Sixteen pieces of steel from the World Trade Center will be installed in a Denver park in southeast Denver to help commemorate the victims of the 911 terrorism, he offered as one example.

Eight years ago the first Mezuzah was affixed on the door of the museum. Another was placed Wednesday night on the door leading to the exhibit.

Artists from all over the world were asked to contribute Mezuzot to the entry ways of the new space.

“As we walk around and come back and spend time, it will be a great experience,” Mizel said about the new exhibit.

“I make a toast from my heart to all of you who are here tonight and I’d also like to make a toast to our community, which is everybody, to reach out to all races, to all cultures to all religions,” Mizel said. “...I think and know the Mizel Museum’s dedication to humanity and to all of you and all of us, this is a toast. L’Chaim.”