We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Waugh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachel, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
A museum is not necessarily what you would think of as a changemaking organization. Museums document and preserve, but they have traditionally been very selective about what they document and preserve. The Museum of Food and Culture is part of a new wave of museums that value diversity and equity from the top down. Museums that encourage contributing your own story and interacting with the content. At the Museum, we believe that food can teach us more about who we are, where we’ve come from, and where we are going. It is also a great tool for learning about histories and cultures different from our own. Our events have and will approach food from different angles and relating the main theme back to peoples’ lives. The intention is to have people interact with the content (yes, that means there are moments for eating), connect with each other, to participate and share their food stories, and to learn a little more about why we eat the way we do … or don’t.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The Museum of Food and Culture is the culmination of my love of food and thinking about history and culture with an interdisciplinary and intersectional lens. Food is something that has always been very central to my life and I am continually fascinated with how different dishes, ingredients, and eating styles have so much history to them.
I have been incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by role models who’ve always encouraged my ambitions, so when I decided to go to graduate school for Food Studies, they were nothing but supportive. While there, I was able to learn more about the interconnectedness of the food system and think about ways to engage people in conversations about food. I am so excited to have moved back to Denver and share my curiosity and excitement with such a foodie city!
In starting the museum, I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned (and continue to learn) throughout the museum is that finding balance in my life leads to better and more intentional work for the Museum. It’s all too easy to end up trying to do the museum as a second full-time job, but I know that that isn’t sustainable for me. I’ve found that I am more organized and deliberate when I make time for relaxing and pay attention to my limits.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Top of my list for experiences
– Check out new exhibits Denver Museum of Nature & Science
– Do the free factory tour at Celestial Seasonings
– Explore some local craft breweries
– Stroll around Washington Park, my favorite park in the city
– Go visit Red Rocks and either hike or enjoy one of the movie nights
– Brunch at Watercourse Foods
– Lunch at Thai Pot Cafe, which is one of my favorite restaurants
– Dinner at Piante Pizza on the weekend – they have amazing vegan pizza!!!
– Other meals, let’s make together
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to shout out to my parents who have always been the biggest fans in my corner. They constantly challenge me to think about things from a different angle. I am honored to have their voices in my head helping me listen to my limits and think about all the possibilities.
Jade Warner Photography