The architecture, design, and graphics collection is displayed on level 2 and level 6 in the North Building. Works from the Middle Ages to the 1900s that represent major developments in style, form, material, and technique in European and North American furniture and decorative arts are presented on level 6 of the North Building. A series of rotating spaces on level 2 focuses on modern and contemporary architecture, furniture, and industrial and graphic design. These exhibition spaces showcase major designers and movements from this period.
The collection includes the AIGA Design Archives at the DAM.
Highlights of the collection include:
- The Davis W. and Ellen N. Moore Collection of Georgian silver
- A series of architectural drawings by Frank Lloyd Wright
- Furniture and product designs by the late Italian designer Ettore Sottsass
- Several key works by Michael Graves
- More than 800 rock-and-roll posters from the psychedelic era
- A portfolio of original screen prints by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki
- Chairs designed by Marcel Breuer, Joe Colombo, Tom Dixon, Charles and Ray Eames, Finn Juhl, Danny Lane, Thom Mayne, George Nakashima, Pierre Paulin, Gio Ponti, Eero Saarinen, Borek Sipek, Shigeru Uchida, Robert Venturi, Hans Wegner, and many others
- Notable bodies of work by such influential graphic designers as Alvin Lustig, Saul Bass, Milton Glaser, Massimo Vignelli, Art Chantry, and Michael Bierut, among others
- Significant works by innovative Colorado designers, including a selection of posters by Colorado artist John Sorbie, an assortment of screen prints by experimental printer Rick Griffith, a portfolio of architectural prints by visionary architect and professor Douglas Darden, and architectural drawings by Arnold Ronnebeck, Jeffrey Sheppard, and George Hoover
Design Council of the Denver Art Museum is pleased to host the Denver premiere of Frei Otto: Spanning the Future, a documentary about the life and work of 2015 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, Frei Otto. More
As the founding partner of Seattle-based firm Olson Kundig, Jim Olson has explored the interplay of landscape, art, and craft in architecture for over fifty years. In addition to his residences—particularly for art collectors—Olson has also designed museums, religious spaces and commercial buildings. He recently completed his first resort project, the JW Marriott in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. More
Posters by internationally acclaimed Colorado designers Phil Risbeck and the late John Sorbie announce performances at Colorado State University, and showcase expressive techniques, energetic imagery, and restrained typography. More
Throughout its 35-year history, Ruskin Pottery produced decorative vessels, tableware, buttons, and plaques intended to be set in silver as jewelry. The pottery was known for hand-thrown ceramic bodies and innovative glazes. More
These eight works reveal the vast range of materials and processes used by contemporary designers as they challenge our notions of what design can be through the enduring form of the chair. More
Performance on Paper is included with general admission, free for members. More
Read curator Darrin Alfred's Q&A with Scott Bennett. More
If you’ve stopped by Level 6 of the Denver Art Museum’s North Building this summer, you might have noticed some chairs sitting unusually high. Using special mounts made by our conservators, we raised six chairs spanning two centuries to showcase their legs. More
Design After Dark takes place once again on Friday, February 6, 2015 at Bindery on Blake, with the theme of “CUT.” In anticipation of Design After Dark | CUT we caught up with event co-chair and designer Craig Rouse, owner of R Design. More
One recent morning, I woke up and started scrolling down my Twitter feed (don't judge) and ran across four posts in a row that were titled something like "top 10 things to...", "5 ways to...", and "the 20 most popular," and I felt annoyed. Why? Because I clicked on them all. There's just something so alluring about the promise of knowing everything you could possibly want to know in just a few little bits of info, right? More
In 1989, designer Kiyoshi Kanai depicted a charging elephant in his poster Don’t Buy Ivory, a work created for the World Wildlife Fund’s effort to raise awareness of the illegal ivory trade in Asian countries. “I designed the poster at the time feeling the fierce urgency to protect the African elephant from unnecessary slaughter,” said Kanai by e-mail. Unfortunately, 25 years later the slaughter continues driven by a demand for items made from rare materials including ivory. More
These publications are available for purchase in the Shop.
- European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century. R. Craig Miller, Penny Sparke, Catherine McDermott. London: Merrell in association with the Denver Art Museum and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, 2009.
- US Design 1975–2000. R. Craig Miller, Rosemarie Haag Bletter, et al. New York: Prestel Verlag in association with the Denver Art Museum, 2001.
- Masterworks: Italian Design, 1960–1994. R. Craig Miller. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1996.
The Denver Art Museum has made a major commitment to building one of the preeminent modern and contemporary design collections of any comprehensive museum in the United States.
The defining moment for the character of the museum’s architecture, design, and graphics collection came in 1990, when former director Lewis Sharp (1989–2009) officially founded the department of architecture, design and graphics. The department was established with the mandate to collect, exhibit, and educate in the disciplines of architecture and design, with a special emphasis on the post–World War II era, and, in particular, to contemporary design.
The collection has developed outstanding concentrations in areas including Italian design from the 1960s and 1970s, American graphic design from the 1950s to the present day, post-World War II furniture and product design in America and western Europe, and contemporary western European and Japanese design. Today, the collection consists of more than 12,000 objects dating from the sixteenth century to the present.
R. Craig Miller was named the first curator of architecture, design, and graphics, and he unveiled the department’s first permanent galleries in 1995. He established clear, but ambitious collecting goals in an area in which few American museums were actively involved and launched into an energetic acquisition program. His inclusive collecting policy encompassed a broad range of design practices, including the decorative arts, industrial and product design, graphic design, and functional craft.
In 2006, the department’s curatorial purview was expanded to include the AIGA Design Archives at the DAM.
Since 1980, AIGA has produced an annual publication documenting the professional design association’s activities and competitions. More than 8,000 physical artifacts selected in these competitions are now a permanent part of the DAM’s collection. These objects represent one of the largest and finest holdings of contemporary American communication design from approximately 1980 to the present. The department also continues to expand the museum’s commitment to creating one of the most far-reaching holdings of American twentieth-century graphic design.
- Darrin Alfred, Curator of Architecture, Design and Graphics
- Kati Woock, Curatorial Assistant
- Ann Lambson, Interpretive Specialist
- Marjorie Garner, Design Council Coordinator