The Denver Art Museum is one of the largest art museums between Chicago and the West Coast, with a collection of more than 70,000 works of art divided between 12 permanent collections including African, American Indian, Architecture Design & Graphics, Asian, European and American, modern and contemporary, Oceanic, pre-Columbian, photography, Spanish Colonial, textile, and western American art. Our holdings reflect our city and region—and provide invaluable ways for the community to learn about cultures from around the world.
Founded in 1893 as the Denver Artists' Club, the Denver Art Museum has had a number of temporary homes, from the public library and a downtown mansion to a portion of the Denver City and County Building. In 1949 the museum opened its own galleries on 14th Avenue Parkway, and a center for children's art activities was added in the early 1950s.
In 1971 the museum opened the North Building by Gio Ponti in collaboration with James Sudler Associates of Denver. Ponti’s signature contributions to the museum’s design are immediately apparent in features that break up the massive appearance of the vertical structure and add to its sculptural richness. A thin exterior wall, with 28 vertical surfaces of varying planes and changing dimension, wraps the entire building. More than one million reflective warm-gray glass tiles, developed especially for this building by Corning Glass Works, cover the exterior. The tiles create constantly shifting patterns of light and shadow depending on the time of day. Windows of various sizes and shapes—square, rectangular, and lozenge—are arranged in a seemingly random pattern but intentionally frame views of the mountains and reveal interesting cityscapes. When the North Building opened, it was viewed as a “forerunner in the worldwide transformation of the temple-style museum into a proliferation of unprecedented and startling architectural forms."
This bold tradition continued with the selection in 2000 of the architect Daniel Libeskind. The 146,000-square-foot Frederic C. Hamilton Building, a joint venture of Daniel Libeskind and Denver-based Davis Partnership Architects, is situated directly south of the North Building. Libeskind's design, referential to the original Ponti building, recalls not only the mountain peaks that provide a powerful backdrop for the city, but the intricate and geometric rock crystals found in the foothills of the Rockies. A sharply cantilevered section of the Hamilton Building juts across the street towards the North Building above an enclosed steel-and-glass bridge that links the two structures.
On October 7, 2006, the Denver Art Museum nearly doubled in size when we opened one of the country's most unique structures. The Frederic C. Hamilton Building includes new galleries for its permanent collection, three temporary exhibition spaces, art storage, and public amenities. The entire museum complex totals more than 350,000 square feet and serves as an architectural landmark for the city of Denver and the surrounding region.
The Denver Art Museum has been a leader in educational programming for more than two decades. The family-friendly approach is fully integrated into the galleries through a unique partnership between curators, designers, and educators for each discipline. This collaboration is present in both the North and Hamilton buildings. A trailblazer in creating innovative opportunities that encourage visitors to interact with the collection, the museum is also known internationally for the way we help our visitors explore art and their own creativity.