Denver Art Museum Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Iconic Hamilton Building

Longtime Chairman Emeritus Frederic C. Hamilton remembered for his landmark contributions

The Denver Art Museum (DAM) is marking the 10-year anniversary of the Frederic C. Hamilton Building, which opened to the public on Oct. 7, 2006. This celebration comes at the heels of the passing of longtime museum benefactor Frederic C. Hamilton, the museum’s Chairman Emeritus. Hamilton gave the lead gift and helped the museum to raise millions for the project. He passed away a few days after his 89th birthday and only days before the 10th anniversary of the building. His generosity transformed the museum from a regional institution to a national and international cultural destination through his astute guidance and bountiful philanthropy.

Hamilton and North Buildings. Photo by Jeff Wells.

The iconic building, designed by architect Daniel Libeskind in collaboration with Denver-based Davis Partnership Architects, has expanded the DAM’s worldwide presence and helped identify Denver and the state as a burgeoning center for arts and culture. A special anniversary publication commemorating the first decade of the Hamilton Building will be available in December.

Since its well-attended, 35-hour opening celebration, the DAM has welcomed more than 5.5 million visitors to the museum campus. The building’s bold, unique architecture has been a symbolic addition to Denver’s skyline and a catalyst for world-class exhibitions, collection growth and unforgettable visitor experiences. The Hamilton Building added 146,000 square feet to the museum complex, providing expanded opportunities for displaying the museum’s permanent collections and presenting temporary exhibitions. The Hamilton Building’s distinctive design has inspired equally distinctive programming.

Frederic C. Hamilton. Courtesy Denver Public Library, Rocky Mountain News photo archives.

“We have built and rebuilt walls, moved spaces around and established small and large galleries, wide sightlines and intimate chambers,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director at the DAM, in the introduction essay of the anticipated anniversary publication. “Our exhibition galleries have proven to be the perfect spaces for such explorations, whether showcasing a 478-carat sapphire mounted by the house of Cartier or a 29-foot-high wall of ceramics and light created by artists Martha Russo and Katie Caron. We continually witness the versatility of this unique structure, its architecture becoming clay in the hands of artists and designers, curators and educators.”

For exhibitions like 2009’s Embrace! and the upcoming Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place, artists take over spaces throughout the building and draw from the unusual sizes and shapes. Their creative approaches to curation and installation in the distinctive spaces result in one-of-a-kind works, unique to the DAM and the art experience available in Denver. The world-class special exhibitions that DAM has held in the Hamilton Building—among them, Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs, Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective, Becoming Van Gogh, Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century and Women of Abstract Expressionism—have gained worldwide attention from media and the public. Also since the opening of the building, the DAM has been named one of the nation’s most family-friendly museums by USA Today, touting innovative and interactive programs available for guests of all ages.

Red, White and Bold: Masterworks of Navajo Design, 1840–1870, in the Martin and McCormick Gallery.

The Hamilton Building has predominantly been a place for promoting creativity. It was an important step in the completion of the museum campus as an interactive and inviting place providing access to a broad range of visitors. The interior spaces have evolved over the past 10 years to continue that mission.

The Hamilton Building has also served as a catalyst for re-imagining the Golden Triangle neighborhood as the creative and cultural hub of Denver and Colorado. Since the opening of the Hamilton Building in 2006, the neighborhood has welcomed the renowned Clyfford Still Museum and the new History Colorado Center, as well as numerous restaurants, shops and creative businesses. In fall 2017, the Golden Triangle also will welcome the new location of the Kirkland Museum of Decorative arts. The neighborhood was also recently named a designated creative district by Colorado Creative Industries, an entity of the State of Colorado.

Commemorative Publication

A limited-edition, 272-page commemorative publication, Not Square: Settling into a Museum Like No Other, the Frederic C. Hamilton Building at the Denver Art Museum will be available to the public this December. The hardcover publication, designed by Bob Aufuldish of Aufuldish and Warinner and published by the Denver Art Museum, will be available in the Museum Shop and online at denverartmuseum.org. In the book’s introduction, Christoph Heinrich reflects on the importance of the building’s construction and bold design, and its evolution to continually meet the museum’s and community’s needs, bring world-class exhibitions to Denver, expand the idea of what art can be and provide visitors opportunities to engage with artists and the creative process. Full-color photography, as well as anecdotes and memories from museum staff, complete the celebratory publication and recognize the first successful decade of the Hamilton Building at the DAM.

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Denver Art Museum

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. Denver metro citizens support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), a unique funding source serving hundreds of metro Denver arts, culture and scientific organizations. For museum information, call 720-865-5000 or visit denverartmuseum.org.

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