Denver Art Museum
Denver Art Museum
On October 7, 2006, the Denver Art Museum opened the doors of a newly expanded complex, including the North Building and the new Frederic C. Hamilton Building, designed by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. The two structures are linked by an enclosed bridge that spans 13th Avenue.
The opening of the Frederic C. Hamilton Building was the culmination of a seven-year project. Funded by a $62.5-million bond approved by Denver voters in 1999 and a $47-million capital campaign, the Hamilton Building is named after the Museum’s chairman of the board who led the endowment campaign, donating $20 million himself.
The Museum’s 28-sided, two-towered North Building opened October 3, 1971. Thus, the opening weekend of the new complex also marked the 35th anniversary of the North Building, designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti. The radical seven-story structure—an architectural icon—is the only completed project in the United States by this important Italian master of modern design.
This tradition of bold architecture has continued with the Hamilton Building. Libeskind’s design evokes not only the Rocky Mountains, but the geometric rock crystals found in their foothills. One of the most unique structures in the United States, the Hamilton Building is the first American building designed by Libeskind to be completed.
Already the largest art museum between Chicago and the West Coast, the Hamilton Building’s 146,000-square feet nearly doubled the size of the Denver Art Museum. The new Museum complex has added galleries dedicated to several collections that have never been on permanent display, three spaces for temporary exhibitions, art storage and a 280-seat auditorium. The complex totals 350,000 square feet.
Museum director Lewis Sharp notes, “The Hamilton Building creates much-needed space to exhibit our extensive and diverse collection and traveling exhibitions”—nearly 1,000 additional works from the Museum’s collection were on view for the grand opening. During its inaugural year, when the Museum anticipates up to one million visitors, all the Hamilton Building’s galleries, including those galleries that will later frequently be used for traveling exhibitions, will be dedicated to art from its collections and collections with strong ties to Colorado.
The Gallagher Family Gallery showcases Japanese Art from the Colorado Collection of Kimiko and John Powers. Approximately 120 works spanning nearly twelve centuries by artists and Zen priests are displayed, including folding screens, hanging scrolls, sculpture and lacquer ware.
RADAR: Selections from the Collection of Vicki and Kent Logan is the inaugural presentation in the Anschutz Gallery. In 2002, Vicki and Kent Logan donated more than 200 works to the Museum and a bequest finalized in March 2006 includes more than 300 additional artworks. Works from the 2002 gift, as well as others from the Logan’s collection and their donations to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, are on view.
Breaking the Mold: The Virginia Vogel Mattern Collection of Contemporary Native American Art highlights contemporary Pueblo ceramics, oil paintings, Navajo and Hopi textiles, and other contemporary American Indian art. On view in the Martin & McCormick Gallery, this exhibition includes 163 of the 320 works given to the Museum by Mattern in December 2003.
The Hamilton and North Buildings also features collection galleries dedicated to the museum’s eight curatorial collections:
1. Architecture, Design, and Graphics
The DAM is committed to the study of modern and contemporary Western architecture, design, and graphics and to establishing these disciplines within the museum field. In addition to collecting more than 11,000 objects, the museum has organized an influential series of contemporary design arts exhibitions. As a result, it is recognized internationally as an important center for contemporary design in the United States.
2. Asian Art
The Asian art collection originated in 1915 with a pledge of Chinese and Japanese art objects and has broadened to include works from the entire Asian continent. Spanning a period from the fourth millennium B.C. to the present, these objects illustrate the wide-ranging achievements of Asian artists and artisans.
The Asian art galleries, which are closed until October 7, are devoted to the arts of China, India, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, Tibet, and Nepal. Two changing galleries, the William Sharpless Jackson Jr. Gallery and the Sze Hong Gallery, feature exhibitions drawn from the museum's holdings and other Asian art collections.
3. Institute of Western American Art
The DAM’s Institute for Western American Art oversees an active program of acquisitions and exhibitions. The collection includes work by western masters such as George Catlin, Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, John Mix Stanley, Alfred Jacob Miller, and others. The crown jewel in the institute's collection is Charles Deas’s Long Jakes, the single most influential image in Rocky Mountain iconography.
The western American art collection was greatly enhanced in 2001 with a gift of more than 800 works of art from Bill and Dorothy Harmsen, longtime Colorado residents and founders of the Jolly Rancher Candy Company.
4. Modern & Contemporary Art
The modern and contemporary art collection contains more than 4,500 works in a wide variety of media, with an emphasis on both internationally known and emerging artists. The collection includes photography, from 19th-century landscapes to the work of contemporary photographers.
The Herbert Bayer Collection and Archive, containing about 8,000 works of art and extensive documentary materials, is an internationally significant repository highlighting this Bauhaus master, who spent 28 years in Colorado. Selections from this important resource will be displayed on the lower level of the Hamilton Building.
5. Native Arts
The museum's African art collection is the most comprehensive body of objects from the African continent in the Rocky Mountain region. It includes about 1,000 paintings, sculptures, installations, and mixed media compositions from every part of Africa.
In the new African art gallery, artworks are presented in the context of music, poetry, and performance. Older works by Olowe Ise and others are juxtaposed with new works by contemporary African artists, including Moyo Ogundipe and Francis Nnaggenda. The display also balances works by women artists--including the Akire shrine painters--with those made by men.
American Indian Art
The American Indian art collection includes more than 18,000 art objects representing the heritage of all cultures and tribes across the United States and Canada. Recognized as one of the best of its kind in the United States, the collection spans more than 2,000 years of artistic creativity, from prehistoric times to the present.
The collection includes diverse artistic traditions such as Pueblo ceramics, Navajo textiles, Northwest Coast sculpture, basketry, Plains beadwork, and oil paintings, representing the full range of American Indian art styles. Over the past 80 years, these artworks have been featured both nationally and internationally in scholarly publications, innovative exhibitions, and educational programs.
The Oceanic art collection includes an array of art forms from the South Pacific region and is especially strong in art from Melanesia and Polynesia. This collection of more than 1,000 pieces includes important historic monumental sculpture, delicate bark cloth, intricate wood carvings, and the work of contemporary artists such as Mathias Kauage and Leban Sakale.
6. New World
The pre-Columbian art collection represents nearly every major culture in Mesoamerica, Central America, and South America, with particular strengths in arts of Central America and Peruvian, Ecuadorian, and Maya ceramics. Thousands of pre-Columbian objects are displayed on the North Building's fourth floor, which has reading areas and activities for kids and adults. The fourth floor is closed until October 7.
Spanish Colonial Art
The museum's collection of Spanish Colonial paintings, silver, santos, and other art objects represents much of Latin America, including Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, and the southwestern United States. There is no other museum in the world where you can compare stylistic movements from all the geographic areas and cultures of Latin America.
7. Painting & Sculpture ( European & American)
The European and American art collection, which includes more than 3,000 artworks, is composed of painting, sculpture, and prints. The European collection is rich in Renaissance and 19th-century French paintings and includes the Berger Collection of British paintings, on loan to the museum.
The American collection’s paintings, sculpture, prints, and drawings represent all major periods in American art before 1945. European and American art is displayed on the North Building's sixth floor, which includes a Discovery Library with books, interactive games, costumes, and other hands-on activities.
8. Textile Art
The scope of the textile art collection ranges from Coptic and pre-Columbian textiles to contemporary works of art in fiber. An extensive collection of American quilts and coverlets, the Julia Wolf Glasser collection of samplers, and the Charlotte Hill Grant collection of Chinese court costumes and accessories are among the strengths of the collection.
A visitor’s art experience begins even before entering the Museum buildings. Three large-scale outdoor sculptures are installed around the Museum: Big Sweep by Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg, Scottish Angus Cow and Calf by Dan Ostermiller and Denver Monoliths by Beverly Pepper, plus a work on loan by Louise Bourgeois titled Spider
Completed in 2004, Big Sweep, a 35-foot broom and dustpan made of painted metal, was commissioned by the Museum with support from multiple donors. Denver Monoliths by Beverly Pepper also was commissioned in 2006 with support from a private donor. This abstract, aggregate sculpture—measuring 40 feet high by 12-1/2 feet in diameter—is one of her most spectacular outdoor sculptures. A 2006 gift of businessman Leo Hindery, Scottish Angus Cow and Calf was originally commissioned for his ranch near Larkspur. It is Colorado artist’s Ostermiller’s largest bronze sculpture to date.
The Museum is now open more hours, including Wednesday and Friday evenings until 10 p.m. Admission prices include a discount to Colorado residents in recognition of the support the Museum receives through the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). General admission for visitors from outside Colorado is $13 for adults, $10 for seniors and students and $5 for visitors 6-18; general admission for Colorado residents is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and $3 for youths 6-18; members and children under 6 years old receive free admission. General admission is free for Colorado residents on the first Saturday of every month.
Pictures and information were provided by the Denver Art Museum
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