Exploring Creative Space at MuseumCamp


Just 5 months ago, in early August of 2015, I was fortunate enough to go to camp for the first time. It was everything I thought it would be and then some: creative, empowering, relationship-building, and life changing. This wasn’t any regular camp. This was MuseumCamp! 

MuseumCamp is an annual professional development retreat hosted by the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH). Each year the museum picks a different theme and works with new partners to create a “thing” produced by diverse, passionate people, coming together to learn by doing in a creative place.

The 2015 theme was space. For two and a half days, we spent our time exploring space-making and what that meant. 100 museum campers were placed into small teams to develop our “thing” for the 2015 camp: the Space Deck.

It was a simple idea that managed to be extremely complex at the same time. We campers, some jet lagged from travelling from as far away as India, Australia, and Europe, had to imagine, design, and develop a set of cards that contained 56 ways to make space for ourselves and others. The Space Deck was divided into suits like playing cards that represent different ways to make space through: STILLNESS, CREATIVITY, COURAGE, ACTIVISM, RELATIONSHIPS, MOVEMENT, RITUAL, and ENVIRONMENT.


The suits were developed from hours of coming together through a wide variety of exploratory tasks, discussions, experiences, and testing out of ways to create safe spaces, and distilling those ideas into a deck of cards. We laughed, sang, danced, sweat, cried, and even bled a little (I managed to sustain a paper cut while using some craft materials), but in the end we completed the task.

Each card in the Space Deck shares techniques that help you empower yourself and others, make room to declutter your mind and reconnect with the world, as well as create tools for understanding and even confronting injustice. You can check out all the space-making cards by suit on the Space Deck website or buy your own personal deck with proceeds from Space Deck sales going to support future creative retreats and camper scholarships at the MAH.

Thank you to Nina SimonBeck Tench, all of the staff, interns, and volunteers at the MAH; to all the MuseumCampers who co-created the Space Deck together; and to my co-creative souls on Team #16: Courage, who all continue to inspire me in the work I do in the arts each day.


As for what I’m doing with my Space Deck, I will be showing it of to my colleagues and putting it to good use creating and exploring space in 2016 and beyond.

***Feel free to read more about the 2015 Museum Camp experience here, here, and here.

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