Denver Art Museum Mourns the Passing of Chairman Emeritus, Frederic C. Hamilton

The Denver Art Museum (DAM) is mourning the loss of Frederic C. Hamilton, 89, the museum’s Chairman Emeritus. Hamilton passed away on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016, surrounded by family.

“We are deeply mourning the loss of the museum’s dear friend and longtime leader, Chairman Emeritus Frederic C. Hamilton, who passed away just a few days after his 89th birthday,” said Christoph Heinrich, the Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the DAM. “Fred was a wonderful man, cherished by everyone who knew him. His visionary leadership, his business acumen, his big-hearted kindness and his love of life will never be forgotten. His gifts to our community and to the Denver Art Museum in the form of his astute guidance, bountiful philanthropy and his exceptional art collection will live on forever. His generosity has transformed this museum and our community. Our most heartfelt condolences go out to his family and loved ones.”

Frederic C. Hamilton; photo by Chris Schneider.

In 2014, the Denver businessman, art collector and philanthropist presented the largest gift of art ever given to the DAM. Hamilton’s bequest of 22 rare Impressionist masterworks from his private collection followed the DAM’s presentation of the show-stopping paintings in Nature as Muse: Impressionist Landscapes from the Frederic C. Hamilton Collection and the Denver Art Museum. The gift included Edge of a Wheat Field with Poppies by Vincent van Gogh–the first of the renowned artist’s work to enter the museum’s collection, and four works by impressionist master Claude Monet. A selection of the Hamilton collection is currently on view in the Painting and Sculpture galleries on the 6th floor of the museum’s North Building.

“Collecting these paintings has been a joy for the past four decades and I am happy to know that future generations of visitors to the Denver Art Museum will be able to enjoy them as much as I have,” Hamilton said at the time of the gift. “It is my hope that this gift will make the museum’s collection an even greater resource to everyone who lives in or visits our great city.”

“Fred Hamilton’s 2014 gift to the museum collection was a pivotal moment in the institution’s history,” said Denver Art Museum Chairman Lanny Martin. “His generosity and commitment to making Denver a destination for art were unparalleled and have forever changed the museum’s ability to deliver world-class exhibitions and programs.”

Commitment to Service

Appointed to the DAM Board of Trustees in 1977, Hamilton’s passion for art and leadership by example has been an asset to the museum and the cultural community for several decades. After serving as the museum’s Vice Chairman for 10 years, Hamilton became Chairman of the Board in 1994, positioned to lead the DAM in its most ambitious expansion project to date. During his tenure, Hamilton guided the DAM through major milestones–most notably the planning, financing and construction of the Daniel Libeskind-designed Frederic C. Hamilton Building. The building’s 10th Anniversary is on Oct. 7, 2016.

Hamilton led the fundraising effort to complete the $110 million expansion project as well as two major endowment campaigns for the DAM during his tenure, growing those assets to more than $100 million. In recognition of his long-time support, the museum named the 146,000-square-foot expansion the Frederic C. Hamilton Building.

The Hamilton building has been transformative for the DAM and its programming, inspiring innovative programs that celebrate and encourage creativity in visitors. The Golden Triangle neighborhood also has flourished in the wake of the Hamilton Building’s opening, becoming home to the Clyfford Still Museum, a new History Colorado Center and the soon to open Kirkland Museum of Decorative Arts.

In addition to his contribution and support of the Hamilton Building, he also led a multi-million dollar renovation of the North Building in 1997 that resulted in the re-installation of the American and European art and western American art collection galleries.

About Frederic C. Hamilton

A pioneer in America’s oil industry, Hamilton founded Hamilton Oil Corporation in the late 1960s, built it into an international oil company and also formed a domestic gas company, both of which he merged into a major integrated oil company in the mid-1980s. Until his passing, Hamilton served as Chairman of Hamilton Companies LLC, active in venture capital, private equity, oil and gas, real estate and acquisitions operations. He served on the National Petroleum Council and as a Director of the American Petroleum Institute. In addition to his commitment to the DAM, Hamilton served as a member of the Trustee’s Council of the National Gallery of Art and Trustee Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution, both in Washington, D.C. He also served as a director of the Board of Trustees of the Clyfford Still Museum, the Boy Scouts of America and Denver-based Graland Country Day School and the Boys and Girls Club of Denver.

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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

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