That was seven years ago.
This week the museum announced Bloemsma’s resignation, which she tendered earlier this month, and the search for the next director.
In the years since Bloemsma was hired, the museum has seen a 60 percent growth in admissions; 67 percent increase in membership; a 200 percent boost in education outreach; and over 250 percent more attendees at museum programs.
Bloemsma is quick to demur, pointing to staff, a committed membership, a hard working Board of Directors, even national trends as reasons for the success. It’s easy to see, Bloemsma is modest.
Bloemsma’s hard-working, nose-to-the-grindstone principles – her staff know her to work both late nights and weekends from home – is very likely the source of the museum’s success, but it may also be the driving force behind her resignation.
Being the face of a beloved institution could be an exhausting task even for the most extroverted leader. Walk with Bloemsma down Colorado Ave. and you might note: she knows most everyone by name. She will often stop and ask a few questions. “Good deal,” she’ll say before turning on her heel toward, more often than not, the museum. It would seem the whole town is her office.
When the ski resort opened in the 1970s, it brought new blood to town – longhairs, as they were sometimes called. Tensions from the transitional decade still lingered into 2005 when Bloemsma took on the role of protecting, preserving and sharing the town’s history. Bloemsma is credited with restoring relationships with long-time locals – whose ties to the region go back to the mining era, sometimes four or five generations – and bringing subsequent waves of residents into the fold.
“She’s given so much. The museum is such a vital place now,” said Vicki Eidsmo, secretary of the museum Board of Directors and third generation Tellurider. “She’s worked tirelessly to make this organization accessible and open to everyone in the community.”
For Bloemsma, What’s Next? could have been the final slide of her PowerPoint presentation. “The museum is today exactly where I envisioned it seven years ago. I’m very proud of our museum, and I’m looking forward to continuing my support as a member. I’m also looking forward to new challenges and more time to explore hobbies and other interests,” she said.
Assistant Director Beth Roberts has worked with Lauren for nearly three years, “She’s leaving on top. You have to admire that,” she said.
“Whoever we select will have the incredible opportunity of building on the foundation of the many accomplishments of Lauren’s tenure as director,” said Jim Tharp, head of the museum’s Search Committee for Bloemsma’s replacement.
Those accomplishments include the digitization of the museum’s vast photo collection; the publication of Images of America, Telluride; the research and display of the Telluride Blanket, the museum’s most prized artifact; a documentary movie on skiing; the introduction of seasonal exhibits; Current History projects; exhibits at remote locations; accelerated collection of oral histories; broadened programming; staff growth to include collections, marketing and exhibit specialists; Heritage Fest; and this summer, the unveiling of a new outdoor mining exhibit, Hard Rocks, Rough Lives, and the Amphitheatre education area.
On the desktop of every museum computer is a digital folder, home to a network of files, called “New Regime,” a hangover name from Bloemsma’s very first days at the museum when she was instituting protocol for all procedures and processes. New Regime contains everything from forms, photos, and event planning tools to the attendance database – all organized for optimum efficiency. To museum staff, New Regime seems less a file name than way of life.
“The structure she’s provided the staff has allowed us the autonomy to accomplish so much. Her infrastructure will live on. It’s her leadership we will really miss,” said Roberts.
As for the newest New Regime? Bloemsma will retain her position through March and will aid in the transition. The executive director position will be posted locally, regionally and in select national museum publications. The Search Committee is looking for an energetic, community-focused and creative individual for the position. Preference will be given to applicants holding a degree in museum studies, arts administration or related fields. A minimum five years work experience in museums and/or nonprofit management is required. The committee is accepting qualified applications through January 23. For more information about the position, visit telluridemuseum.org The Committee asks for no calls, please.