We recently heard from a guest of the Carriage Museum who brimmed with praise for curator Jason Campbell. We knew Jason was great, but the positive feedback prompted me to dig a little deeper and find out more about the guy in the distinctive tie who loves old cars.
Generally when people think of museums and curators, their first thoughts are of dusty, dark spaces with a librarian-type figure cataloguing artifacts. But with one visit to the Carriage Museum and an introduction to its curator, Jason Campbell, those preconceptions are immediately shattered. From manager of his family printing business to Carnival Cruise reservation assistant, DocuMart manager, flower delivery man, fly-fishing bum, and Adventures Out West tour guide, dark and dusty spaces are far from this curator’s experiences.
A native of Colorado, Jason grew up knowing of El Pomar Foundation and its impact on the community. Now he has become a part of that legacy, narrating Colorado Springs’ history through old carriages, cars, and artifacts Spencer and Julie Penrose collected from around the world. With his signature bolo tie, cowboy boots, and infectious personality, he brings to life the history of the Carriage Museum, making it an unforgettable experience for those who visit.
Here are some questions Jason Campbell answered for me and all those fascinated by his work:
I’m a second generation native of Colorado Spring and grew up in the Skyway area.
What brought you to the El Pomar Foundation and working in the Carriage Museum?
I worked as a cowboy Jeep tour guide for Adventures Out West with part-time curator Bill MacEnulty. El Pomar was looking for another part-time curator, so after a few months of interviews I got the job. Best thing I ever did! I’ve now been working here five years total. Two years part-time at the Carriage Museum and at the Will Rogers Shrine, and three years as head curator.
What makes the Carriage Museum unique and what exhibits do you like the most?
The design of the interior is very unique and beautiful in itself, but I like the fact that we have a wide range of different carriages, as well as the incredible original condition of the carriages and other artifacts. And we have two U.S. presidential carriages. The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb exhibit garners a lot of attention too. Our Native American artifacts are incredible. Most of our artifacts are Smithsonian quality.
What does a typical day look like for you?
If it’s busy I give lots of tours, which are my favorite part, interacting with the people. I love people! It’s also neat in that I think every day I learn something new from somebody and their areas of expertise.
I like the outdoors: hiking, four-wheeling, camping, fly-fishing, collecting antiques. Family is very important too and I’m lucky that most of my family is in town. And whenever there is an auto race, I’m there! I also like to road trip with my girlfriend to the mountain towns and if there is a museum, believe me, I’m going to check it out.
Did you ever see yourself working in a museum?
I would never have guessed, although I was in third grade when I went on a school field trip to the original museum--built in 1941, commissioned by Julie Penrose. I was a pre-med student at CU Boulder but I always loved history and excelled at it all through school. People kept telling me I should have been a history teacher.
Carrie Markel, a senior at Colorado College, is a summer intern in the communications office at El Pomar Foundation.