Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum — DAM is an art museum located in the Civic Center of Denver, Colorado. The museum is one of the largest art museums between the West Coast and Chicago. It is known for its collection of American Indian art, and its other collections of more than 68,000 diverse works from across the centuries and world.
- 1 History of the museum
- 2 Collections
- 2.1 Architecture, Design, and Graphics
- 2.2 Asian Art
- 2.3 Modern and Contemporary Art
- 2.4 Indigenous arts
- 2.5 New World Collection
- 2.6 European and American art
- 2.7 Photography
- 2.8 Textile Art
- 2.9 Western American Art
- 2.10 Selected past exhibitions
- 3 Education
- 4 Funding
- 5 References
- 6 External links
History of the museum
- 1893: The museum's origins can be traced back to the founding of the Denver Artists Club in 1893.
- 1916: The Club renamed itself the Denver Art Association in 1916.
- 1918: The Denver Art Association became the Denver Art Museum, two years later in 1918 — DAM opened its first galleries in the City and County building.
- 1922: The museum opened galleries in the Chappell House in 1922. The house, located on Logan Street, was donated to the museum by Mrs. George Cranmer and Delos Chappell. peek-a-boo
- 1948: In 1948, the DAM purchased a building on Acoma and 14th St. on the south side of Civic Center Park. Denver architect Burnham Hoyt renovated the building which became known as the Schleier Gallery, allowing the museum to open its own galleries. While the Schleier Gallery was a significant addition, the DAM still sought to increase its space. Additional pressure came from the Kress Foundation, who offered to donate three collections valued at over $2 million on the condition that DAM construct a new building to house the works. DAM sought help from the city and county of Denver to raise funds. However in 1952 voters failed to approve a resolution bond.
- 1954: Despite this setback, the museum continued to raise funds and eventually opened a new building, the Morgan Wing or South Wing. It opened in 1954, and made it possible for DAM to receive the three Kress Foundation collections.
- 1971: The North Building, a major and distinctive seven-story 210,000-ft2 addition, opened in 1971. It allowed the museum to finally display its collections under one roof. The building was designed by Italian modernist architect Gio Ponti, with local architects James Sudler Assoc. of Denver. Ponti said that “Art is a treasure, and these thin but jealous walls defend it.” It is his only completed design built in the United States. Ponti wanted the DAM building, housing the important art within, to break from the traditional museum archetypes by placing more than a million reflective glass tiles on the building’s exterior, along with a dramatic “castle-like” façade. The architecturally unique tower building has 24 sides, and is clad in reflective grey glass tiles specially designed by Dow Corning.
- 2006 February: The Duncan Pavilion is a 5,700 ft2 second story addition to the Morgan Wing, that came to receive the bridge traffic from the new Frederic C. Hamilton building (2006) and the Ponti's existing North Building (1971), once the renovation is completed. The Duncan Pavilion is designed as a temporary structure intended not to compete architecturally with the existing historical buildings or the new Hamilton building. It provides a large attrium space for a rest midway through museum tours, and roof terrace where one can see sweeping vistas of the city, and stand directly under the prow of the Hamilton. Along with the addition the project renovated the mechanical system and visitor circulation in the Morgan Wing.
- 2006 October: Opening of the Frederic C. Hamilton building, a major expansion designed as a joint venture by Studio Daniel Libeskind and Denver firm Davis Partnership Architects (architect of record). The new building opened on October 7, 2006, and is clad in titanium and glass. The project was recognised by the American Institute of Architects as a successful Building Information Modeling project.
The Duncan Pavilion is a second story addition to the Morgan Wing of the Denver Art Museum, opened in February 2006. It is link between the new Daniel Libeskind designed Hamilton Building and the existing art museum buildings, including the famous Geo Ponti designed North Building tower (1971).
The project intent included preserving the integrity of the oldest part of the museum, the landmark Morgan Wing of the art museum built in 1954, while providing a significant mechanical upgrade for it.
The Duncan Pavilion is a second floor addition, open assembly area that receives the pedestrian bridge from the Hamilton Building with a new pedestrian elevator and monumental glass stair linking pedestrian traffic to the existing Signature Gallery on the first floor. The strongly day lighted space provides a sense of transition between the new and old buildings and a resting point. An upgraded extension of the existing freight elevator creates the final link in the system facilitating artwork traffic between the existing and new buildings so the artwork can be received and serviced in the Hamilton Building and transported to and from the Ponti building’s gallery without exiting the protective environment of the Museum.
The new rooftop patio provides panoramic city views of the City Capitol, Civic Center Park, Denver Library, Wellington Web and other buildings as well as the unique view of standing directly under the new Hamilton Building “prow” almost exactly as you exit the building onto the patio, creating a very dramatic effect.
The newest addition to the Denver Art Museum is the Frederic C. Hamilton Building, which holds the Modern and Contemporary art collection, along with the Architecture and Design collection, and Oceanic art collection. The unique building also serves as the main entrance to the rest of the museum complex. This ambitious project doubled the size of the museum, allowing for an expansion of the art on view, inside a bold aesthetic facade.
The complex geometric design of the Hamilton building consists 20 sloping planes, covered in 230,000 square feet of titanium shingles. The angular design juts in many directions, supported by a 2,740-ton structure that contains more than 3,100 pieces of steel. One of the angled elements extends 100 feet (30 m) over the street below. None of the 20 planes is parallel or perpendicular to another.
The design uses many extended angular planes to be reminiscent of the natural landscape. Similar to the peaked roof of the Denver International Airport, the Hamilton building emulates the sharp angles of the nearby Rocky Mountains, as well as the geometric crystals found at the mountains' base near Denver. Daniel Libeskind, architect of the building, said “I was inspired by the light and geology of the Rockies, but most of all by the wide-open faces of the people of Denver.” The titanium panels also reflect the light of the Colorado sunshine.
Regarding the entire design concept, Libeskind commented, “The project is not designed as a standalone building but as part of a composition of public spaces, monuments and gateways in this developing part of the city, contributing to the synergy amongst neighbors large and intimate.”
Libeskind designed a landscaped pedestrian plaza for the DAM complex, which also displays significant works of outdoor sculpture. The works include: 'Scottish Angus Cow and Calf' by Dan Ostermiller, the 'Big Sweep' by Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg, and an untitled work by Beverly Pepper.
Because of the distinct configuration of the steel to produce the bold building, the Hamilton extension of DAM received a Presidential Award of Excellence, from the American Institute of Steel Construction—AISC’s 2007 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel (IDEAS2) awards program. In determining the winning projects, the AISC judges considered each project’s use of structural steel from both an architectural and structural engineering perspective. They emphasized: “creative solutions to the project’s program requirements; applications of innovative design approaches in areas such as connections, gravity systems, lateral load resisting systems, fire protection, and blast; the aesthetic and visual impact of the project, particularly in the coordination of structural steel elements with other materials; and, the innovative uses of architecturally exposed structural steel and advances in the use of structural steel, either technically or in the architectural expression.”
- Architectural reviews
The dramatic design of the Hamilton extension of DAM has received mixed reviews. The architecture critic for the "Los Angeles Times", Christopher Hawthorne, said that "museum architecture does not always blend cohesively with a great architectural achievement." He reported that “It’s a really stunning piece of architectural sculpture, but the aggressive forms make it a pretty terrible place for showing and looking at art.”
The director of the Denver Art Museum, Lewis Sharp, said that one of the most thrilling moments about the building is how the visitors are brought in to seeing the artworks within an entirely new, exciting environment as the artists’ work is displayed and hung in over 20 different ways on the dramatic, sloping, obliquely shaped galleries. He adds, “I think you often see things that you had never seen before. It just raises all types of potentially new ways to engage a visitor.” Some visitors and Denver residents appreciate the design, such as the Andreesons who said, “We’re in normal looking buildings every single day. It’s just kind of an experience to walk into a room that doesn’t look like rooms that we would normally be in.” Sharp says that is exactly what the museum was looking for in their expansion. He said the museum’s board was seeking the opportunity to draw people to the city by building something radical and spectacular, to capture the attention of people around the country and the world. The Frederic C. Hamilton building does stand out in the Denver cityscape.
The museum has nine curatorial departments: architecture, design & graphics; Asian art; modern and contemporary; native arts (American Indian, Oceanic, and African); New World (pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial); painting and sculpture (European and American); photography; Western art; and textile art.
Architecture, Design, and Graphics
Formed in 1990, the Architecture, Design, and Graphics department opened its first permanent galleries in 1993. The collection has more than 12,000 objects, dating from the 16th century to the present. Changing exhibitions drawn from its collection of fine and decorative arts are displayed on the sixth floor, featuring pre-1900 European and American decorative arts. 20th-century design galleries are located on the second floor.
The museum's Asian art Collection, the only such resource in the Rocky Mountain region, includes four main galleries devoted to the arts of India, China, Japan and South—western Asia. Additional galleries offer works of Tibetan art, and from Nepal and Southeast Asia, while thematic galleries display religious art and traditional folk crafts.
Modern and Contemporary Art
The Modern and Contemporary Art Collection contains over 4,500 works of 20th-century art by internationally known and emerging artists, within the Modern & Contemporary Department. The department includes the Herbert Bayer collection and archive, a Bauhaus artistic and scholarly resource, containing some 2,500 items.
The collection contains works by modern artists, including: Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Henri Matisse, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Man Ray. The collection contains works by contemporary artists, including: Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Robert Motherwell, Damien Hirst, Philip Guston, Knox Martin, Jacobo de la Serna, Dan Flavin, John DeAndrea, Gottfried Helnwein, and Yue Minjun.
A notable piece is in the modern and contemporary collection. Linda, by Denver artist John DeAndrea, is a life-size realistic sculpture of a sleeping woman. Made of polyvinyl, the piece is sunlight-sensitive and is shown only for short periods of time.
- The Shootout
In 1983 the museum became the home of the controversial pop-art sculpture The Shootout, by Red Grooms. It represents a cowboy and an Indian shooting at one another. The sculpture, now on the roof of the museum restaurant, had been evicted from two other downtown Denver locations after Native American activists protested and threatened to deface the work.
The museum's American Indian Art Collection of Native American art has over 16,000 works representing over a hundred First Nations and Native American tribes from across North America. Under the direction of Arnold Ronnebeck, Art Director from 1926–1930, the Denver Art Museum was one of the first museums to use aesthetic quality as the criteria to develop such a collection, and the first fine arts museum in the country to collect American Indian art. The museum exhibits these items as art works, rather than as anthropological artifacts. The range of Native American art styles is reflected in such diverse objects as Northwest Coast art woodcarving, Naskapi painted leather garments, Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) twined weaving, Plains Indian beadwork, Navajo weaving, Puebloan pottery, and Californian basketry.
The Oceanic art collection, on view in the Hamilton Building, includes all major island groups, with particular strength in late 18th and early 19th-century wood carving and painted bark cloth from the islands of Samoa, Tonga and Hawaii. The Melanesian collection consists of masterpieces from Papua New Guinea and New Ireland. The contemporary Oceanic works, including paintings, drawings and prints, add distinction to the collection and demonstrate cultural continuities and innovation in Oceanic artistic traditions.
The African art Collection consists of approximately 1,000 objects, and focuses on the diverse artistic traditions of Africa, including rare works in sculpture, textiles, jewelry, painting, printmaking, and drawings. Although the strength of the collection is West African art, with emphasis on Yoruba works, there are masterpieces from all regions and mediums of expression including wood, metals, fibers, terracotta and mixed media compositions. The hallmark of the collection includes Contemporary African Art, comprising paintings, sculptures, drawings, videos, and prints from prominent living artists with international reputations. Interactive elements in the gallery include an iPod station with African music selections, an area where to create rubbings using African designs, and a "movie hide-away" for children.
New World Collection
The New World Department has a comprehensive representation of the major stylistic movements from all the geographic areas and cultures of the New World. The New World Collection, comprising over 5,500 objects, is exhibited in a unified presentation of the arts of Latin America. Included are Pre-Columbian masterworks of ceramic, stone, gold, and jade by the indigenous peoples of the Americas. From the Spanish Colonial Period, the collection includes paintings, sculpture, furniture, and silver pieces.
- Mayer Center
The Frederick & Jan Mayer Center at the Denver Art Museum is dedicated to increasing awareness and promoting scholarship in the fields of Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art through the New World Collections at DAM. The Mayer Center sponsors annual symposia and publications of their proceedings and additional volumes, research including a resident fellowship program, and periodic study tours to Latin America and Spain. The programming of the Mayer Center is directed by DAM's New World Department.
The Denver Art Museum's Pre-Columbian art Collection is encyclopedic in breath and depth, and exhibited in an open storage gallery, allowing scholars to view the entire collection. The Pre-Columbian collection represents visual arts by indigenous peoples of the Americas from nearly every major culture in Mesoamerica, Central America, and South America. The collection’s greatest strength is the Mayer Central American collection which includes gold, jade, stone, and earthenware from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama. Ancient Maya art from southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize is especially significant, and contains a large number of very important works. Other significant holdings from Mesoamerica include the Mexican ceramics, Western Mexico shaft tomb tradition, Teotihuacan, and Olmec art collections. South American collections are especially strong in Ecuadorian and Colombian art, and in several of the Peruvian art traditions of Ancient Peru, particularly Moche, Wari, Tiwanaku, and Chimu.
Spanish Colonial art and design
The Spanish Colonial Collection of paintings and furniture is the most comprehensive one in the United States. It is especially strong in paintings from the Viceroyalty of New Spain era (colonial Mexico), largely due to the collecting interests and generosity of the Mayer family. Another area of great strength is the paintings from the Viceroyalty of Peru era (colonial Peru), from the Frank Barrows Freyer Collection. Silver holdings, comprising the Appleman and Stapleton collections, and furniture holdings from all over Latin America represent a comprehensive decorative arts collection. The Anne Evans collection of Spanish Colonial art from the Southwestern United States is yet another significant strength of the collection.
European and American art
The Painting and Sculpture Department is composed of over 3,000 objects, representing American and European painting, sculpture, prints, and drawings, created from the Renaissance to pre-1900. The European collection is richest in Renaissance art and 19th-century French paintings. The American collection consists of paintings, sculpture, prints, and drawings — representing all major periods in American art before 1945.
Artists represented include Sandro Botticelli, Defendente Ferrari, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Georgia O'Keeffe. Other painters represented include; Jacopo del Casentino ("Madonna and Child"), Bernardo Zenale, Niccolò di Pietro Gerini ("4 Crowned Saints Before Diocletan"), Filippino Lippi, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Berthe Morisot, Max Beckmann, Juan Gris, and Georges Braque.
- The Berger Collection
Works are on view from the Berger Collection, one of the largest private individual collections of British art in the world, with more than 150 pieces by British artists. These include works by Thomas Gainsborough, Edward Lear, and other artists of the English school of painting, that covers a period of six centuries.
The Photography Collection, whose photographic works were previously incorporated within the modern and contemporary art collection, and in the Western American art collection, became the separate Photography Department in 2008. The collection includes 19th-century photographs of the American West.
The Department of Textile Art collection ranges from Coptic art and pre-Columbian textiles to contemporary works of art in fiber, overlapping culturally and chronologically with all but the Native American Arts Department. A nationally-recognized collection of American Quilt art and coverlets, the Julia Wolf Glasser Collection of samplers, and the Charlotte Hill Grant Collection of Chinese Court Costumes, are among the strengths of the department.
Western American Art
The Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum was established in 2001. The collection of American West art includes the masterworks: In the Enemy's Country by Charles M. Russell; The Cheyenne by Frederic Remington; and Long Jakes by Charles Deas. The 19th-century photographs of the West collection is now in the Photography Department.
- The Harmsen Collection
Also in 2001, the Western American Art collection was augmented by the Harmsen Foundation's donation of over 700 paintings. The Harmsen Collection contains works by artists and photographers who charted the settling of the American West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The artists represented include: Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, Frank E. Schoonover, and Frank Tenney Johnson. The collection also includes works by modern interpreters of American Western art, including: Gerald Curtis Delano, Harvey Dunn, Dan Muller, and Raymond Jonson.
Selected past exhibitions
Past exhibitions at DAM include:
- 1999 "Impressionism: Paintings Collected by European Museums" — received 215,000 visitors
- 2000 "Matisse from The Baltimore Museum of Art" — received 155,000 visitors
- 2001 "European Masterpieces: Six Centuries of Paintings from the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia"
- 2002 "The Cos Cob Art Colony: Impressionists on the Connecticut Shore"
- 2002 "Metamorphosis: Modernist Photographs by Herbert Bayer and Man Ray"
- 2002 "U.S. Design 1975-2000"
- 2002 "Art & Home: Dutch Interiors in the Age of Rembrandt"
- 2003 "Antarctica: Through the Eyes of Those Who Live It"
- 2003 "Bonnard"
- 2003 "Sargent and Italy"
- 2003 "El Greco to Picasso from The Phillips Collection" — received 191,000 visitors
- 2003 "RETROSPECTACLE: 25 Years of Collecting Modern and Contemporary Art"
- 2004 "Frederic Remington: The Color of Night"
- 2004 "Painting a New World: Mexican Art and Life, 1521-1821"
- 2004 "Tiwanaku: Ancestors of the Inca"
- 2005 "Heaven and Home: Chinese Art of the Han Dynasty from the Sze Hong Collection"
- 2005 "Amish Quilts: Kaleidoscope of Color from the Collection of Faith and Stephen Brown"
- 2005 "Blanket Statements, an exhibition of Navajo Weavers"
- 2005 "New Classics" — contemporary pieces from the Museum’s American Indian collection, by a variety of artists including Dan Namingha, Emmi Whitehorse, Mateo Romero, and Kevin Red Star
- 2006 "RADAR: Selections from the Colorado Collection of Vicki and Kent Logan"
- 2006 "Breaking the Mold: The Virginia Vogel Mattern Collection of Contemporary Native American Art"
- 2006 "Japanese Art From the Collection of John and Kimiko Powers"
- 2007 "Artisans & Kings: Selected Treasures from the Louvre"
- 2007 "Color as Field: American Painting, 1950-1975" — Color Field paintings
- 2007 "Maria: American Icon" — Puebloan pottery by Maria Martinez, Native American potter
- 2007 "George Carlson: Heart of the West"
- 2007 "Clyfford Still Unveiled: Selections from the Estate"
- 2008 "Landscapes from the Age of Impressionism & Inspiring Impressionism"
- 2009 "The Psychedelic Experience: Rock Posters from the San Francisco Bay Area, 1965-1971" — psychedelic rock art
- 2011 "Robert Adams: The Place We Live, A Retrospective Selection of Photographs"
- 2012 "Becoming van Gogh"
- 2012 "Ed Ruscha: On the Road"
- 2013 "Mud to Masterpiece: Mexican Colonial Ceramics"
- 2013 "Olivetti: Innovation & Identity"
The museum’s Education Department has emphasized three areas: 1) Research in making museum visits successful and enjoyable; 2) Creation of innovative installed learning materials (e.g., audio tours, labeling, video and reading areas, response journals, and hands-on and art-making areas); and 3) Interactive learning for young people both in school and family groups. Family-friendly programs such as the Just for Fun Family Center, Eye Spy gallery games, the Discovery Library, Kids Corner, and Family Backpacks have been both popular and successful. In particular, the Family Backpack program has been adopted and adapted by other institutions, ranging from the Victoria and Albert Museum to the Henry Ford Museum.
The museum is run by a non-profit organization separate from the City of Denver. Major funding for the museum is provided by a 0.1% sales tax levied in the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), which includes seven Colorado counties in the Denver-Aurora metropolitan area. About 60% of this tax is used to provide funding for the Denver Art Museum and three other major science and cultural facilities in Denver, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Zoo, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. In addition, the museum receives large private donations and loans from private collections. Over the past five years, the Denver Art Museum has averaged 465,000 visitors a year. Total revenues for the Museum in 2003 were $23 million.
- denverartmuseum.org: DAM — mission + history . accessed 3.30.2013
- William C. and Kenton Forest. Denver: A pictorial history from frontier camp to Queen City of the Plains. Colorado Railroad Museum, 1993
- Harris, Neil. "Searching for Form." The First Hundred Years. The Denver Art Museum, 1996
- denverartmuseum.org: DAM — the North Building . accessed 3.30.2013
- Jones, William C. and Kenton Forest. Denver: A pictorial history from frontier camp to Queen City of the Plains. Colorado Railroad Museum, 1993,
- Denver Art Museum. "The Buildings." Denver Art Museum. N.p., 01 2012. Web. 29 Mar 2012. <http://www.denverartmuseum.org/about/the-buildings>.
- AIA.org / Site Objects: Building Information Modeling (pdf)
- Saieh, Nico. "Denver Art Museum/Daniel Libeskind." Arch Daily. N.p., 05 10 2010. Web. 29 Mar 2012. <http://www.archdaily.com/80309/denver-art-museum-daniel-libeskind/>.
- AISC. "Denver Art Museum." Structure. 11 2007: n. page. Web. 29 Mar. 2012. <http://www.structuremag.org/article.aspx?articleID=299>.
- Denver Art Museum. "The Buildings." Denver Art Museum. N.p., 01 2012. Web. 29 Mar 2012. <http://www.denverartmuseum.org/about/the-buildings>
- "Daniel Libeskind, Frederic C. Hamilton Building." Arcspace. N.p., 09 10 2006. Web. 29 Mar 2012. <http://www.arcspace.com/architects/Libeskind/denver2/denver2.html>.
- American Institute of Steel Construction, . "2007 IDEAS2 Awards." Modern Steel Construction. 2007: n. page. Print.
- Sydell, Laura, perf. "Blancing Form, Function In Museum Architecture." All Things Considered. NPR: 08 12 2008. Radio.
- DAM — Gallery Map: the collections
- DAM — Architecture, Design, and Graphics collection
- DAM — Asian Art Collection
- DAM — Modern and Contemporary Art Collection
- DAM — The Logan Collection of Contemporary Art
- Irene Clurman, "Orphan sculpture to find home at art museum," Rocky Mountain News, 12 October 1983, p.6.
- DAM — American Indian Art Collection
- DAM — Oceanic Art
- DAM — African Art Collection
- DAM — Frederick & Jan Mayer Center, New World Department.
- DAM — Pre-Columbian Art Collection
- DAM — Spanish Colonial Collection
- DAM — European and American Art collection
- DAM — Photography Department
- DAM — Department of Textile Art
- DAM — Western American Art
- DAM — Past Exhibitions
- DAM — Kids & Families
- DAM — Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) funding
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- Official Denver Art Museum website
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