The Denver Art Museum (DAM) will begin the phased reopening of its unified campus in June 2020 with the unveiling of three levels of the Gio Ponti-designed Martin Building (formerly referred to as the North Building) and the new Anna and John J. Sie Welcome Center (Sie Welcome Center).
In November 2017, the north side of the campus closed to the public for major renovations in order to better serve the museum's growing program and visitorship. As part of a long-term vision to create a united footprint, the complete campus will reopen in time for the Martin Building's 50th anniversary at the end of 2021.
The Martin Building is being named in honor of Museum Chairman Lanny Martin and his wife Sharon Martin, who made the lead gift for the project's capital campaign. Designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti and Denver-based James Sudler Associates, the Martin Building opened in 1971. Its seven-story silhouette is celebrated as one of the first-ever high-rise art museums, and is the only completed building in North America by the renowned Italian modernist.
The exact opening date for this first phase, along with public events and other details, will be shared in early 2020.
"Since January 2018, the Denver Art Museum has been building and renovating the north side of its campus to improve the visitor experience while celebrating the building's historic architecture. Starting next summer, I am excited to begin welcoming our community back into these new dynamic and creative spaces where they can explore art, world cultures and their own creativity," said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the DAM.
The first phase of the reopening will include the opening of the Sie Welcome Center, as well as the recently announced Bartlit Learning and Engagement Center, supported by Fred and Jana Bartlit, which will place the museum's nationally recognized educational programming at the center of the campus.
In the Martin Building, a refurbished Bonfils-Stanton Gallery, new Amanda J. Precourt Design Galleries and interactive space, and a newly renovated Northwest Coast and Alaska Native gallery, will be the first art galleries to welcome visitors on levels 1 and 2.
The lower level will include a gallery for student and community art exhibitions. The lower level also will house a purpose-built art conservation laboratory with north-facing windows—an essential tool in conservation treatment—that also will enable visitors to get a look at behind-the-scenes preservation work.
The museum is pursuing LEED certification based on design with energy efficient systems, low-flow water fixtures and a comprehensive construction waste management program. Infrastructure and safety upgrades include two additional elevators for improved visitor flow, updated mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems and new exterior wall insulation.
Expanded and upgraded exterior spaces will accommodate the more than 200,000 youth who visit the museum free of charge annually, thanks to the DAM's Free for Kids program, which provides free general admission to all youth 18 and under every day.
"These improvements will better serve our visitors, enabling access to more than 72,000 square feet of new and refurbished spaces next summer," said Heinrich of the $150 million construction and renovation project, most of which has been funded privately. "We are grateful to Denver's voters for their 2017 support of the Elevate Denver Bonds, which provided $35.5 million for crucial safety and infrastructure upgrades. The museum is proud to match public investment dollars with privately raised funds at a 3-to-1 ratio."
The museum's renovation project was one of the first of Elevate Denver's more than 500 projects launched following broad voter support in 2017 for citywide upgrades including roads, bike paths and cultural facilities.
THE SIE WELCOME CENTER
The Sie Welcome Center will complement the Martin and Hamilton Buildings, completing the campus and expanding visitor services and access. Designed with a nod to Ponti, the 50,000-square-foot elliptical-shaped structure was designed by architecture partners Fentress Architects of Denver and Machado Silvetti of Boston. Saunders Construction of Denver served as the general contractor on the project.
On the main level, the Sie Welcome Center will feature ticketing, guest services and two new dining options for museum visitors. New art collection storage and conservation laboratory will be located on the lower level. Details on the Denver Art Museum's new, quick-service café and full-service restaurant will be shared soon.
STURM GRAND PAVILION
The second level of the welcome center is the Sturm Grand Pavilion, which encompasses more than 10,000-square-feet of flexible event and programming space enclosed by 25-foot-tall floor to ceiling glass panels, engineered to provide structural integrity. During museum hours, the space will serve as Family Central, a flexible public space with hands-on activities.
The Sturm Grand Pavilion also will be available for event rentals, along with several additional new event spaces in the Martin Building. Please visit denverartmuseum.org/events for a full list of spaces, capacities and other details, as well as to reserve space.
THE MARTIN BUILDING
When the final phase reopens to the public at the end of 2021, every floor of the Martin Building will have been refurbished, including redesigned galleries and reinstalled collections, as well as crucial electrical, insulation, plumbing, technology and access upgrades. The renovations both celebrate Gio Ponti's iconic design and ensure the building's relevance and stewardship for the next 50 years.
BARTLIT LEARNING AND ENGAGEMENT CENTER
A key priority in the renovation project was to bring the Museum's renowned educational programs to the heart of the campus, in order to expand DAM's ability to engage visitors of all ages in creative learning opportunities. The new Bartlit Learning and Engagement Center will feature more than 12,000 square-feet of flexible programming space, classrooms and community gallery space for art presentations.
Designed by Mexico City-based Esrawe + Cadena, the interactive Bartlit Center will feature the Creative Hub, a new space developed in response to feedback from the creative community and other community partners. With more than 5,600 square-feet, the Creative Hub will be a comfortable place for gathering, a platform for diverse and evolving community-driven programming and a celebration of local creativity, enabling the community to help create and participate in hands-on art experiences.
The new center also will be a landing place for school and youth group visits, bringing the building's iconic oval entrance back to public use with a rebuilt bridge connected to a safety-centric bus-drop off area with space for up to three school buses. The museum's Free for Kids program has underwritten more than 450,000 youth visits since its 2015 inception, increasing the need for adjacent outdoor spaces. The expanded Kemper Courtyard and outdoor spaces will include areas for art display, performances, student lunch breaks, events and other opportunities.
In a move to expand exhibition space while maintaining the integrity of the Martin Building's iconic architecture, the previously two-story Bonfils-Stanton Gallery was divided into stacked galleries.
The DAM will dedicate the main level of the new, bisected gallery to special exhibitions drawn from its extensive global art collections. Previously used for exhibitions, but serving as art storage for the last decade, the Bonfils-Stanton Gallery returns nearly 7,000 square-feet of gallery space to public use on level 1.
ReVisión: Art in the Américas will be the first featured exhibition, pulled from the museum's internationally recognized Latin American and Ancient American art collections, and will present a new look at art from the region by considering the relationship between ancient and historic works with contemporary practice. ReVisión will be curated by Denver Art Museum team Victoria I. Lyall, Frederick and Jan Mayer Curator of Art of the Ancient Americas, and Jorge Rivas Pérez, Frederick and Jan Mayer Curator of Latin American Art, with gallery design by IKD of Boston and San Francisco.
ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN
Dividing Bonfils-Stanton Gallery created 7,500 square-feet of additional gallery space on level 2 to highlight the museum's Architecture and Design collection. The entirely new Amanda J. Precourt Design Galleries and hands-on Design Studio were created without increasing the building's footprint. The initial installation will focus on the stories and ideas behind objects from the Industrial Revolution to present day. These imaginative spaces will transform periodically and host a series of ongoing activities.
The Amanda J. Precourt Design Galleries will be curated by Darrin Alfred, the Denver Art Museum's curator of Architecture and Design, with gallery and studio design by OMA New York and graphics by McGinty Co. of Louisville, Colo.
NORTHWEST COAST AND ALASKA NATIVE
The museum's renowned Northwest Coast and Alaska Native art collections will be on view in a completely refurbished and reinstalled gallery on level 2. John Lukavic, the museum's Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Native Arts, is leading the reinstallation of the space, which will continue the DAM's tradition of recognizing the creativity of individual Native artists. The opening installation takes this idea a step further, exposing the interconnected system of Indigenous knowledge, community and place that both influences artists and is influenced by them.
The introductory installation of the Northwest Coast and Alaska Native gallery, to be shared in further detail later this year, will feature artists as the center of the stories being told. The museum team is working in collaboration with Fricker Studio of Colorado and McGinty Co. for gallery design and graphics.
MEMBERSHIP AT DAM
Museum members will have the opportunity to see the new spaces before the public during exclusive member preview moments. For details on membership levels and benefits, please visit www.denverartmuseum.org/membership.
Further details will be shared as the museum continues its construction, move-in, installation and phased reopening of the completed campus.
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THE DENVER ART MUSEUM
The Denver Art Museum is an educational, nonprofit resource that sparks creative thinking and expression through transformative experiences with art. Its mission is to enrich lives by sparking creative thinking and expression. Its holdings reflect the city and region—and provide invaluable ways for the community to learn about cultures from around the world. Metro voters 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, visit www.denverartmuseum.org or call 720-865-5000.Download PDF of press release.