Denver Art Museum Awarded $1.75 Million Mellon Foundation Gift

The DAM kicks off continuing textile art initiative this summer with Spun: Adventures in Textiles

The Denver Art Museum (DAM) announced today a $1.75 million gift from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that will continue the transformation of the museum’s textile art department. A grant of $1.5 million in the form of a challenge to be matched one-to-one within three years will help establish a $3 million endowment to support a full-time textile conservator. In addition to the endowed position, the grant will provide $250,000 for a fellowship in textile conservation. The fellowship will be filled after a national call for qualified candidates and will consist of advanced-level training, research and outreach.

“Textiles are triggers of cultural exchange and creative expression around the world,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the Denver Art Museum. “The DAM is devoted to exploring, preserving and presenting this underrepresented art form. I can’t wait for visitors to be pleasantly surprised by the range of textile art available as showcased this summer in Spun: Adventures in Textiles.”

The DAM’s textile art initiative gained momentum in 2012 thanks to a gift from the Avenir Foundation and several private donors who endowed a textile art curator and enabled the expansion of the textile art galleries. This new space dedicates six times the previous space to showcasing the museum’s textile art collection. To become a significant center for the study and appreciation of textile arts, the DAM is committed to a department that offers not only visitor-centric experiences, but also creates opportunities for educational and professional development.

“This generous grant from the Mellon Foundation will secure the future of conservation care for a very important segment of our permanent collection,” said Sarah Melching, Silber Director of Conservation. “As a result of this generous backing, the DAM is poised to become a major contributor nationally to the field of textile conservation and training therein.”

The Mellon Foundation’s philosophy is to build, strengthen and sustain institutions and their core capacities, rather than support narrowly defined projects. To do this, the foundation develops thoughtful, long-term collaborations with grant recipients and invests sufficient funds for an extended period to accomplish the purpose at hand and achieve meaningful results. The foundation’s support allows institutions such as the DAM to make transformative changes and focus on areas of need and interest within the organization.

This summer, the DAM continues its focus on textile arts with the campus-wide exhibition Spun: Adventures in Textiles. The exhibition will take a wide-ranging look at textiles from pre-Columbian weavings to Navajo blankets to an examination of how contemporary artists are working with fabric. The museum’s newly opened and renovated textile art galleries—debuting in May 2013—and its inaugural show Cover Story are at the heart of this campus-wide event.

In addition to showcasing textile art, the space will also encourage visitor creativity, presenting a variety of textile art-related programming. The interactive PreVIEW space will offer visitors a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how DAM staff prepares works of art for display. For two hours on a weekly basis, visitors can observe and interact with conservation and other staff as they assess, handle and treat objects from the textile art collection. Visitors will also learn about tools, processes and equipment, special conditions necessary for fragile objects and the general “hows and whys” of conservation.

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