Denver Art Museum
museum in Denver, Colorado, United States



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Denver Art Museum
museum in Denver, Colorado, United States
Average: 5 (1 vote)

100 W 14th Ave Pkwy
Denver, Colorado
United States

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From its humble beginnings as the Denver Artists Club, founded in 1893, where it was housed in various buildings, including the local library, the Denver Art Museum now boasts over 350,000 square feet of space in two buildings.

The Denver Artists Club was originally comprised of six women and four men; as the organization grew, they changed the name to the Denver Art Association in 1917. In 1922, they were gifted the Chappell House, a large mansion where they were able to house their collections; this would become the Denver Art Museum in 1923.

The Denver Art Museum is worth seeing not only for their collection of over 70,000 pieces of art, but for the amazing and different architecture of their two main buildings. The museum has not one, but two unique buildings, and will soon have a major addition, which is currently under construction. The first building, the North Building, opened in 1971, and was designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti (his only work in the United States). It looks kind of like a modern interpretation of a medieval castle or fortress, if that castle had a million glass tiles on the exterior, of course.

The addition now being added to the museum is a new Welcome Center that is shaped like an oval, and will be in between the two existing buildings. During the construction, the North Building is closed, and is expected to reopen in 2021, in time for the building’s 50th anniversary.

The second building, the Frederic C. Hamilton Building, opened in 2006, and has some of the sharpest angles you will find on any museum building anywhere in the world. The architect, Daniel Libeskind, said that the design was inspired by the peaks and valleys of the nearby Rocky Mountains. This building reminds me of a giant piece of origami, maybe a swan. However, not everyone is a fan of this type of architecture, one critic actually thinks it can be dangerous to our health.

It’s much more likely that other people can be dangerous to one’s health, or, as happened in a recent incident, the health of the art. Thankfully, occurrences of vandalism at museums are relatively rare, but the museum experienced this in December of 2018, when an 18-year-old man went on a “rampage,” and damaged 10 works of art. All of the artworks were a part of the same exhibit: Stampede: Animals in Art. Using only his hands, the man knocked over and threw pieces of art around the gallery before security tackled him and got him under control. The damages were at first estimated to be over a million dollars, but that figure was later revised to less than $100,000.

The museum is also across the street from the Clyfford Still Museum, and about a block away from the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art. If that still isn’t enough art or museums for you, within a several block radius, there is the Denver Firefighters Museum, the Molly Brown House Museum, and the William Havu Gallery.



  1. "Extension to the Denver Art Museum, Frederic C. Hamilton Building." Libeskind. Accessed July 23, 2019.
  2. "Is Denver's Contemporary Architecture Killing Us?" The Colorado Sun. Accessed July 24, 2019.
  3. Cascone, Sarah. "Teenage Vandal Smashes Rare Works of Art at the Denver Art Museum." Artnet News. December 12, 2018. Accessed July 24, 2019.
  4. Harris, Kyle. "Denver Art Museum Vandal Pleads Guilty, No Additional Prison Time." Westword. March 21, 2019. Accessed July 25, 2019.
  5. "The Denver Artist's Guild: How Much Do You Know About It?" Anne Evans RSS. Accessed July 25, 2019.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art MuseumDAM 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 70,000 diverse works from across the centuries and world.

History of the museum


The museum's origins can be traced back to the founding of the Denver Artists Club in 1893. The Club renamed itself the Denver Art Association in 1917 and opened its first galleries in the City and County building two years later. 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. In 1923, the Denver Art Association became the Denver Art Museum (DAM).


In 1948, the DAM purchased a building on Acoma and 14th Avenue on the south side of Civic Center Park. Denver architect Burnham Hoyt renovated the building, which opened as the Schleier Memorial Gallery in 1949. 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. Despite this setback, the museum continued to raise funds and eventually opened a new building, the South Wing (now known as the Bach Wing), in 1954. This made it possible for DAM to receive the three Kress Foundation collections.

The North Building, a seven-story 210,000-square-foot addition, opened in 1971, allowing 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 Associates of Denver. Ponti said, “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. The two-towered "castle-like" façade has 24 sides, and more than one million reflective glass tiles, designed by Dow Corning, cover the building's exterior.


The Duncan Pavilion and the Frederic C. Hamilton Building were both added to the museum in 2006. The Duncan Pavilion, a 5,700-square-foot second story addition to the Bach Wing, came to receive the bridge traffic from the new Hamilton Building and the existing North Building (1971). Duncan Pavilion was designed to be kid- and family-friendly while also suitable for multi-use (e.g., during the museum's Untitled Final Friday series as well as wedding receptions and other events). It was intended to complement both buildings. The Hamilton Building was 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 recognized by the American Institute of Architects as a successful Building Information Modeling project.

Duncan Pavilion

The Duncan Pavilion is a second story addition to the Bach Wing of the Denver Art Museum and opened in February 2006. It is a link between the Daniel Libeskind-designed Hamilton Building and the 1971 Gio Ponti-designed North Building.

The project's intent included preserving the integrity of the oldest part of the museum, the Bach Wing built in 1954, while providing a significant mechanical upgrade for it.

The Duncan Pavilion's open assembly area receives the pedestrian bridge from the Hamilton Building with a pedestrian elevator and glass staircase linking pedestrian traffic to the Signature Gallery on the first floor. 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 galleries without exiting the protective environment of the museum.

Hamilton Building

The Frederic C. Hamilton Building, celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2016, holds the Modern and Contemporary art, African art and Oceanic art collections, along with part of the Western American art collection and special exhibition spaces. The building also serves as the main entrance to the rest of the museum complex. This project doubled the size of the museum, allowing for an expansion of the art on view.

The complex deconstructivist geometric design of the Hamilton building consists 20 sloping planes, covered in 230,000 square feet of titanium panels. 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 167 feet over and 100 feet above 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 many-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. Architect Daniel Libeskind 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.”


Regarding the 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, 'Big Sweep' by Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg, and 'Denver Monoliths' by Beverly Pepper.


Because of the distinct configuration of the steel to produce the building, the Hamilton Building expansion of the 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 competition. 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; innovative uses of architecturally exposed structural steel; advances in the use of structural steel, either technically or in the architectural expression and the use of innovative design and construction methods such as 3D building models, interoperability, early integration of specialty contractors such as steel fabricators, alternative methods of project delivery, or other productivity enhancers.”

Architectural reviews

The design of the Hamilton extension of DAM has received mixed reviews. Christopher Hawthorne, architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times, said the architectural achievement of the building does not mean it works well as a museum. He called the Hamilton Building "a stunning piece of architectural sculpture," but "a pretty terrible place for showing and looking at art." "Museum architecture does not always blend cohesively with a great architectural achievement."

Lewis Sharp (DAM director, 1989–2009) said one of the most thrilling things about the Hamilton Building is that visitors can see the artworks in a new environment, as there are at least 20 different ways to display and hang artists’ work in the sloping and angular galleries. “I think you often see things that you had never seen before," Sharp said. "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 said that was 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.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Denver Art Museum.