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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Touring the CELL

Educate. Empower. Engage.
The CELL, or the Center for Empowered Living & Learning, is located in the cultural district near the Denver Art Museum, the Colorado History Museum and the main branch of the Denver Public Library.
It is an ongoing exhibit drawing attention to the destructive forces of terrorism and how it can happen to “Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere,” a theme that hangs like a dark cloud throughout the visit. I didn’t leave feeling empowered and knowing that there are people and organizations out there battling terrorism; instead I felt that I just walked through a house of horrors that tried to scare the hell out of me.
I initially tried to visit The CELL during the 2008 Democratic National Convention. But, when I walked in, I was chased down by a curator telling the facility was not yet open to the general public; apparently only the big wigs in town were allowed in for preview parties.
So, almost a year later, I made my way back to the exhibit only to find myself disappointed. The scare tactics were just too over-the-top and I felt the message was lost in translation. All of the flashy television monitors with quickly edited videos seemed to try to throw everything in my face and just overpower me. But, it really didn’t work.
And other exhibits just seemed like the belonged in a children’s museum. I know that’s hard to believe in an exhibit on terrorism, but it’s what I was reminded of when coming across little wooden doors with questions written on them. It’s great that I was given the answer when I opened the door, but it felt out of place. I felt too much like a child opening a panel that said “fish” on it to see a picture of a fish on the other side.
Finally, the message of constructivism and peace was so brief at the end that it just paled in comparison to everything that had just been thrust upon me moments before. In the whole exhibit, which spans 15 different areas, I only found two spots that attempted to make me feel empowered. And those two areas, the final spots in the exhibit, consisted of two videos about people working for good and a wall of leaflets for the taking.
The exhibit is only $6 for Colorado residents, $8 for non-residents, but it was more the time that wasn’t worthwhile. It really never drew me in or inspired me. The curators work hard to do that, but it seems like it’s just too hard with too much money and not enough thought.

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  1. Spending a Free Night at Denver Museums | Jason's Travels - November 1, 2012

    […] in the metro area throwing open their doors for free, including the Black American West Museum, The CELL, the Children’s Museum of Denver, The Denver Firefighter Museum, the Kirkland Museum of Fine and […]

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