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Meet Melanie Dellas and Karen Lacy of Muse Curatorial Consulting Group in San Diego

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melanie Dellas and Karen Lacy.

Karen and Melanie met seven years ago when Melanie was in grad school at the University of San Diego and was interning at the museum Karen was Collections Manager for. A single mom of two young sons, Melanie was a full-time student and full-time mother who needed to reinvent her career after the recession closed the doors of her previous business. The two women struck an immediate friendship, and co-curated the museum’s Monsters! exhibit, which showcases their mutual love of folklore, mythological creatures, and pop culture monsters from around the world. Six years later, the women decided to start their own company would not only give them more time to spend with their families but would allow them to care for cultural objects in more than one museum, as well as for private collectors. They have always been inspired by history, so when forming their own company, using history as their muse, was easy, and Muse Curatorial Consulting Group was born. Melanie and Karen have been caring for museum collections for over 25 years, collectively. During that time, they have worked with various institutions and collections from around the world and saw differing standards and knowledge of preservation and care. They saw a need for a centralized group of professionals offering a variety of skills, as well as to advocate for the need to put collections care as a priority. They created a one-stop shop for museums and private collectors to fulfill that need. From collection management, conservation, and archival care, to grant writing, exhibit development/design, and custom storage and rehousing, their team of professionals can do it all.

Has it been a smooth road?
Starting any company is always a risk, but starting one that is so specialized that only a small handful of people in the entire country do it, well that’s on a whole new level. Yet, that is exactly what we did – and we are changing the way museums and private collectors think about caring for their objects. Although it has been a surprisingly smooth first two years, that’s not to say it wasn’t scary at first to say ‘OK, I’m leaving the world of full-time employment with benefits to start a company that may or may not take off,’ But we both knew it was worth the risk. Private collectors are constantly looking for people to help them care and exhibit their objects and many museums need temporary staff they can trust. We realized there was a need and knew how important a job it is to preserve history and art for future generations. Besides, how often do you get the opportunity to challenge yourself and hang out with one of your closest friends?

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Muse Curatorial Consulting Group – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
MCCG offers a broad range of services for its clients, aimed at supporting the preservation, conservation, assessment, curation and respectful care of historic and cultural ethnographic, archaeological, archival collections, and fine art. We provide services to private collectors, museums, businesses, and cultural organizations, and train them to take the lead after we have completed a project while maintaining open communication for as long as is needed.

Both of us bring a family approach to collections care. It is not just about the object, but the history of the object and its meaning, both known and unknown, that is important to preserve. With this holistic view of object care, we bring a high level of care standards to each object but also connect the owners and stewards of the objects to a better understanding of the object itself. If a steward knows the object, they will be better able to care for it. Muse prides itself with caring for the objects you love. Each object, piece of art, book, or photograph is treated with respect and love regardless of its monetary or historic value. Muse chooses to care for objects the way you care for them, making us the perfect partners in stewarding your collections together.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
San Diego is a wonderful place to find a variety of collectors and collections to take care of, and we get to work on so many different types of materials and preserve them for future generations. With Balboa Park as the city’s cultural hub, there is always something to do and see and learn from. We are just happy we get to be a part of it!

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