Staff bios

Curators

David Bailey, Curator of History and Director of the Western Investigation Team

David Bailey

David Bailey started out as a volunteer doing historical walking tours for the Museums of Western Colorado in 1987. He accepted the position as Curator of History in 1992. In that capacity he has led numerous bus and van tours, historic hotel trips, and historical and architectural walking excursions. Bailey has also served as a documentary film consultant, working with National Geographic, History Channel, Travel Channel, and the BBC. He enjoys historic preservation, public history, exhibit design, and researching western Colorado history. In 2005, Bailey became Director of the Western Investigation Team (WIT), a joint historical and scientific research group with Colorado Mesa University. Bailey now offers educational trips that are based on research conducted the WIT group.

Matt Darling, Curator of Cross Orchards and Railroad Historian

Matt Darling is a fourth generation railfan and a published railroad historian. A Colorado native, he has lived in Grand Junction for most of his life and has a degree in U.S. history from CMU. Matt started volunteering at the research library in the museum in 2015. Having achieved the skill level of Journey Mechanic, Matt brings a unique set of skills to Cross Orchards. When not running around Cross Orchards, Matt enjoys hiking, biking, and railfanning.

Julia McHugh, Ph.D., Curator of Paleontology

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Julia McHugh began her career at the Museums of Western Colorado in June 2014 as the Curator of Paleontology and Site Manager for Dinosaur Journey and jointly as an instructor in the Geology Department at Colorado Mesa University. Before coming to Dinosaur Journey, she worked as a paleontology research assistant at Oklahoma State University’s medical school, instructor for the OSU chapter of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and as a research associate at the Sam Nobel Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. She has a passion for teaching and for paleontology and loves leading excavations and paleontological trips with the museum. She has worked on excavations in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Oklahoma and has worked with natural history museums throughout the United States and South Africa. She has a B.A. in Geology from Hanover College, a M.S. in Geosciences from Idaho State University, and a Ph.D. in Geoscience from The University of Iowa.

Erin Johnson Schmitz, Curator of Collections and Archives

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Erin Schmitz is a Colorado native and comes to us from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where she worked as an Image Archives Assistant. She earned a Master of Arts in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and also holds Bachelors of Arts degrees in History and Anthropology. Other than the Denver Museum, Erin has worked with the Lakewood Heritage Center and History Colorado. Erin is passionate about digitization and has given presentations at several museum professional organizations on how to build a successful digitization plan. In addition to museums, Erin loves to spend time outdoors hiking with her young family and is an avid baseball fan.

 

Administration

Peter MacMillan Booth, Ph.D., Executive Director

PeterBooth

Peter Booth comes from a fifth-generation Western family. He was born in Denver, grew up in south Texas, spent most of his adult career in Arizona and Oregon, and now makes Grand Junction his home. Peter graduated with his B.A. from the University of Texas, his M.A. from the University of Arizona, and his Ph.D. from Purdue University, all in history. His focus has been late 19th- and early 20th-century United States, American West, and Native American history. Peter has served as Assistant Director of Education at the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson, Education Director at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, Arizona, and Executive Director at Willamette Heritage Center. He is now the Executive Director at the Museums of Western Colorado.

Carla Hatch, Membership Coordinator, Trips & Digs Coordinator, and Office Manager

Carla came to the Museums of Western Colorado in February 2012 as a temporary bookkeeper. Her many years of experience in the accounting and office management fields, as well as other skills, have proven to be very useful to the Museum. Her position soon evolved into full-time as she took over administering the Trips and Digs reservations. Carla can often be seen on our different trips and excursions as one of our van drivers, which she really enjoys. You can also find her helping with many of the MWC events. Her position further evolved to include human resources, membership coordinator, and office manager. She resides in the administration offices on the second floor of the Museum of the West. When not working, Carla enjoys her place on Glade Park, which includes goats, chickens, turkeys, cats, and dogs. She also loves spending time with her family and friends riding ATVs, fishing, taking pictures of wildlife and this beautiful area, crafting, and shopping, among other things.