Dear MoPOP Community: A Year-End Message From Director of Curatorial, Collections + Exhibits Jacob McMurray
Dear MoPOP community,
It’s good to be back. After a long stretch of being closed and our usual programs upended, it was amazing to reopen MoPOP earlier this year and once again engage our community in person and celebrate the pop culture that unites us.
For the past two years, we’ve all felt the isolation and uncertainty of the pandemic, experienced an overdue movement for racial justice, and lived through contentious political times. Amidst all of that, I watched with a full heart as people continued to connect with one another through pop culture.
Whether it was music, TV shows, books, movies, or games, so many of us found new communities, passions, and interests that sustained us through the ups and downs of the past two years. One of the things that inspired me most was seeing how we at MoPOP could provide comfort and connection.
With an internet connection being one of our only tools to bring people together, our staff created a series of online programs that gave nerds, geeks, and fans a way to continue exploring their passions. And nothing exemplified this spirit more than our horror film series It’s Coming from Inside the House, where we hosted horror aficionados for virtual film screenings. And as every horror fan knows, in order to survive you have to stay together.
The community that developed and grew over the past two seasons did just that. Our Manager of Public Programs Robert Rutherford emceed with a special guest every screening, including the likes of The Blair Witch Project filmmakers EduardoSánchez, Gregg Hale, and Michael Monello. During the films, the chat window was always on fire with participants sharing their love of horror and insightful analysis.
The program caught the attention of Meghan Storms who had never been to MoPOP, but knew she was looking for a community at the start of the pandemic. Here’s what she told us looking back:
"I live alone and I was hurting. It was a hard time. And I was struggling in a way where I recognized, in myself, 'I don’t know how this is going to be sustainable to do this.' I joined in and right away the way people were connecting with each other and with me. And as it went on, I brought up stuff that’s really important and personal to me about being a member of [the] disability community and how disability gets portrayed in horror. I remember the physical, body nervousness. But not only were people receptive, but I actually sent out some links from articles and people were like, 'Oh, cool homework. Thank you.' That was when I thought to myself, 'These might be my people.'"
Meghan Storms, MoPOP Member: I can really be seen here. I can come authentically…. I can show up with all of me and they want me to do that. And that's why they want me there.
Meghan experienced firsthand the power that pop culture has to connect us with one another and bring people together, sharing, celebrating, and expanding our understanding of this human experience.It was the same experience I saw visitors having when we were able to reopen our doors and as we continued experimenting with online and some in-person programming. Whether it was showing off their own body art to someone else in our Body of Work: Tattoo Culture exhibition or sharing a moment of wonder over the Strat Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock, our exhibitions and artifacts bring joy and connectedness. It is the same sense that we fostered with new exhibitions this year on the LGBTQ+ rights movement, hip-hip photography, and Disney costumes.
When you give to MoPOP, your gift fuels new experiences and celebrates the pop culture which connects you to your community, as it did for Meghan. Your support allows us to continue innovating expanding our public programs and educational offerings. In fact, we can’t do our important work without the support of our community, so please — make your year-end gift today!
Even with the museum having reopened early this year, the lingering effects of the pandemic mean we are still recovering and adjusting our work creatively. I am excited about our plans to expand our offerings and bring back more in-person engagement next year, but we need your support now to make it possible. And the more our community supports us and shares our love for the importance of how pop culture connects us, the more we can do to continue building community and creating opportunities for connections that bring joy.
It won’t be surprising that a lot of our supporters have been hit hard over the past two years; many have not been able to renew their giving to MoPOP or even return for a visit yet. That’s why we are so grateful to you for all the support our community has been able to give this past year. And if you can give too, your gift will help us continue serving all of our community with innovative and accessible programs that bring joy and connection to even more people.