Denver Art Museum
100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., Denver
HOURS: Tues.–Thurs. and Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m.,
Fri. 10 a.m.–10 p.m., Sun. noon–5 p.m.
COST: $10–13 adult, $3–5 child, $8–10 senior
Since opening in 2006, the Denver Art Museum’s Frederic C. Hamilton Building has become an attraction in itself. Designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, the 146,000-square-foot building is all sharp angles and severe points—intended as an interpretation of rock crystals and of the jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains.
The building has had its fair share of criticism—being largely panned by national art critics, visitors complaining of vertigo inside, and questions about whether the art is enhanced or hampered by the architecture. Nonetheless, it’s created a lot of exciting energy in the neighborhood and the city.
The new Hamilton building is connected to the original building, a seven-story “castle” that has been home to Denver Art Museum since 1971 and was also once controversial for its design. Now called the North Building, it was designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti.
Once inside either of the museum’s buildings, visitors will discover more art and activities than can be seen in one day. The museum’s Institute for Western American Art includes works by well-known masters, including Charles Deas’s Long Jakes, The Rocky Mountain Man, as well as the work of local contemporary artists.
Like much of the museum, the Western American Art rooms include interactive areas, especially for children. In this room, visitors can make their own postcards using ink stamps with iconic Western images and colored pencils.
Other collections at the Denver Art Museum include African art, American Indian art, Oceanic art, and a Modern and Contemporary collections room with thousands of pieces by artists including Andy Warhol, Man Ray, and many others. The permanent collections are not all exhibited at one time, but on a rotation, though some public art pieces, such as a Mark di Suvero sculpture, are always on display outdoors.
There are two restaurants and a coffee shop at the museum, primarily open for lunch. Palette’s in the North Building is full of natural light and offers an elegant take on basics like hamburgers and chicken salad. Mad Greens is a sandwich and salad café across Martin Plaza from the museum entrance. There are two Novo Coffee shops (www.novocoffee.com) at the museum, one in each wing.
The parking garage for the museum is directly across the plaza from the Hamilton building. The Museum Residences, also designed by Mr. Libeskind, are above the garage. The glass “walls” of these private homes are meant to complement the titanium-skinned museum that they face.
© Mindy Sink from Moon Denver, 1st Edition