Mission & History
The Denver Art Museum is an educational, nonprofit resource that sparks creative thinking and expression through transformative experiences with art. Its holdings reflect the city and region—and provide invaluable ways for the community to learn about cultures from around the world. Its mission is to enrich the lives of present and future generations through the acquisition, presentation, and preservation of works of art, supported by exemplary scholarship and public programs related to both its permanent collections and to temporary exhibitions presented by the museum.
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 10 permanent collections including African, American Indian, Asian, European and American, modern and contemporary, 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. The museum opened our own galleries on 14th Avenue Parkway in 1949, and a center for children's art activities was added in the early 1950s. In 1971 the museum opened the 24-sided, two-towered North Building by Ponti in collaboration with James Sudler Associates of Denver. Over one million faceted, shimmering gray tiles, developed by Dow Corning, provide cladding for the radical seven-story structure. This architectural icon remains the only completed project in the United States by this important Italian master of modern design.
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.
The DAM is a member of:
- American Alliance of Museums
- Association of Art Museum Directors
- Association of North Front Range Museums
- Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums
- Contemporary Art Colorado
- French Regional and American Museums Exchange
- Mountain-Plains Museum Association
- Smithsonian Affiliate