The Light Show, Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America, La Musidora Returns, Untitled Final Friday: Cyber Future, Creative-in-Residence Juntae TeeJay Hwang and Other July Highlights

The museum will be open regular hours on Thursday, July 4.

The Light Show at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) explores physical and symbolic representations of light in art through a thought-provoking narrative. Presenting about 250 objects drawn from the DAM’s nine curatorial departments, the cross-departmental exhibition focuses on the quest by humanity and artists to understand physical light in the natural world as well as metaphorical, spiritual and divine representations of light.

Installation view of The Light Show.

The Light Show explores interconnected aspects of the overarching subject through sections including Qualities of Light, Enlightenment, Altars, Firelight, Shadows & Shade, Darkness, Mirrors & Reflections and Transparency. Works on view include visitor favorites such as Lucas Samaras’s immersive Corridor #2 , El Anatsui’s Rain Has No Father? and the Tibetan Hayagriva sand mandala, as well as a major new acquisition, The Way the Moon’s in Love with the Dark by artist Fred Wilson.

The Light Show prompts visitors to reflect on a variety of light-related themes through a broad range of artworks including ancient sculptures, paintings, photography, textiles and contemporary installations. Included in general museum admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger. #LightatDAM

The Light Show-related programming

First Light Family Space

Open during museum hours

Step into the shining world of the new First Light Family Space and try hands-on activities inspired by The Light Show. Capture nature’s shadows with moveable silhouettes, experiment with transparency and color on overhead projectors, mix patterns to cast bold shadows and design a wearable mirror. Located on level 3. Included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger.

Untitled Final Friday: Cyber Future featuring Michael Sperandeo

July 26, 610 p.m.

July’s Untitled Final Friday highlights the creative practice of interactive digital artist Michael Sperandeo, with the theme “Cyber Future,” inspired by The Light Show. The evening will include an augmented reality (AR) interactive game, social media art tour, interactive game by Oh Heck Yeah and LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) where visitors can create their own character in the theme of Michael’s AR game.

Untitled Final Friday also includes a cash bar and yummy eats available from a different food truck each month. Free for members and youth 18 and younger; students with valid ID receive two-for-one tickets during Untitled. Untitled Final Fridays are presented by Your 6 Hometown Toyota Stores. #untitledDAM


The DAM celebrates a Summer of Play with the return of a popular and playful outdoor installation as well as an exhibition indoors that presents the concept of play in postwar American design as a catalyst for creativity and innovation.

Ignacio Cadena (left) and Héctor Esrawe (right) sitting on the outdoor installation La Musidora, which their interdisciplinary design firm Esrawe + Cadena created for the Denver Art Museum.

La Musidora

Opening July 3

La Musidora is back to delight visitors once again! The name La Musidora is a combination of the Spanish words "la música" (music) and "la mecedora" (rocking chair). Take part in this interactive outdoor art installation and make musical sounds by gently rocking colorfully woven chairs in tandem. This 90-foot artwork, installed on Martin Plaza near the Hamilton Building entrance, seats a total of 20 visitors at a time.

This summer experience was designed by Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena of the interdisciplinary design firm Esrawe + Cadena in Mexico City. La Musidora is generously funded by the PB and K Family Foundation.

Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America

Through Aug. 25

Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America explores how employing playfulness allowed designers to bring fresh ideas to the American home, children’s toys and play spaces, and corporate identities.

Diverse materials and manufacturing techniques opened up possibilities for new approaches to design and larger-scale production during the 1950s and ’60s, while an increase in disposable income and leisure time of a growing middle class offered more options for designers to help Americans discover a new way of living at home through thoughtfully designed objects. An emerging focus on child development prompted an interest in children’s furniture and placed a fresh emphasis on the importance of smart toy design, while pervasive Cold War anxiety created a desire to bring positivity and escapism into everyday spaces.

Serious Play includes over 200 works ranging from works on paper, models, textiles, furniture and ceramics to films, toys, playground equipment and product design. Organized around three themes—the American home, child’s play and corporate approaches to design—the exhibition encourages visitors to consider how design connects to their daily lives. Daily 45-minute public tours of the exhibition are available at 1 p.m. Included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger. #SummerofPlay2019

Installation view of Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America. Photo by Jeff Wells.

Serious Play-related programming

Serious Play self-guided tour and lecture with curator Darrin Alfred

July 10, 3–6 p.m.

Stroll through Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America on a self-guided tour from 3 to 5 p.m., then join exhibition curator Darrin Alfred in Sharp Auditorium at 5 p.m. No reservations required. Included with general admission; first-come seating for lecture. Sponsored by Friends of Painting and Sculpture, a DAM support group.

©2019 Eames Office ( Photographer Lucia Eames.

Midcentury Design: A Closer Look (a three-part course)

Session 2: Playful Seriousness — July 13, 2:304 p.m.

In session two of a three-part course, learn about "growing up Eames" and get a firsthand glimpse at the principles of Eamesian design through the eyes of Carla Atwood Hartman, granddaughter of Charles and Ray Eames. The final session on Aug. 10 will examine Fun, Taste & IKEA. Tickets for individual sessions are $22 DAM members, $25 nonmembers. General admission tickets, which include entrance to the exhibition, are sold separately.

Talk at 12 Tours

On Wednesday and Friday at noon, enjoy a 30-minute, focused tour. In July, visit Serious Play, Treasures of British Art: The Berger Collection and Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze.

  • July 3 & 5—Ponti: Not Just Architecture
  • July 10 & 12—Casteel Again: The Baayfaals
  • July 17 & 19—The American Raphael
  • July 24 & 26—Look! Clocks Not Just for Time
  • July 31 & August 2—A British Medieval Mystery.

Included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger.


Jordan Casteel, Joe and Mozel (Pompette Wines), 2017. Oil on canvas; 90 x 78 in. Collection of Lonti Ebers. Image courtesy of the artist and Casey Kaplan, New York © Jordan Casteel

Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze

Through Aug. 18

Showcasing 29 paintings by the Denver-born artist, Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze is the first major museum exhibition for one of the most acclaimed emerging artists working today. The exhibition brings together a body of work made from 2013 to 2018, with new paintings that reveal the artist’s evolving practice and a shift in subject matter ranging from cityscapes and subway scenes to women and local business owners.

Casteel’s approach to selecting subjects involves walking around her neighborhood and taking photographs. By transforming these photographs into larger-than-life portraits with subtle shifts in light, bold colors and gestural brushwork, Casteel reveals individuals and atmospheres that often go unnoticed.

A 45-minute public tour of the exhibition is available daily at 2 p.m. Included with general admission, which is free for DAM members and youth 18 and younger. #JordanCasteelatDAM

Composite view of Erika Harrsch’s multi-media installation, Under the Same Sky… We Dream, 2017-2019.

Eyes On: Erika Harrsch

Through Nov. 17

Erika Harrsch, a New York-based artist who was born and raised in Mexico City, first exhibited her project Under the Same Sky… We Dream in El Paso in 2017 just as regulations became more stringent for those seeking asylum in the United States. This multimedia installation comprises imagery, music, text and furnishings that reference the circumstances faced by immigrants and refugees subject to the DREAM Act. Vocalist Magos Herrara collaborated with Harrsch to produce the soundtrack for the installation. Included with general admission, which is free for DAM members and youth 18 and younger. #ErikaHarrschatDAM

Eyes On: Jonathan Saiz

Through Nov. 17

Jonathan Saiz’s installation, #WhatisUtopia, features a column covered with 10,000 tiny drawings, paintings and sculptures, and five additional framed works. Utopia is defined as “an imagined community or society that possesses highly desirable or nearly perfect qualities for its citizens.” The artist employs social media to spark conversation and document responses about our ability to re-envision and embody a modern utopia.

After the exhibition closes, Saiz will give away the 10,000 artworks on the column. Follow the story on Instagram via @utopia_is_free with #WhatisUtopia and #JonathanSaizatDAM. Included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger.

John Singer Sargent, Rosina Ferrara, Head of a Capri Girl, 1878. Oil paint on cardboard; 12 7/8 x 9 7/8 in. Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust, 2018.21

Treasures of British Art: The Berger Collection

Through Jan. 5, 2020

Treasures of British Art showcases about 60 paintings gifted to the museum by the Berger Collection Educational Trust in 2018. This exhibition presents 500 years of British cultural history through the stories of its people, captured by the enduring brilliance of artists of the time. The exhibition features devotional images, portraits, landscapes and sporting scenes by the greatest artists of the British School—including Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Lawrence and John Constable—as well as non-British artists who spent significant time in Britain, such as Flemish artist Anthony van Dyck and American artists Benjamin West and John Singer Sargent.

A 45-minute public tour is available daily at 1:30 p.m. Included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger. #TreasuresatDAM

Blue Star Museum Program 2019

Through Sept. 2

The DAM is participating in the summer 2019 Blue Star Museum program, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and more than 2,000 museums across America. The DAM will offer free general admission to active duty military personnel and their families, including the National Guard and Reserve, through Sept. 2, 2019. For additional details and to find other participating museums, visit the Blue Star Museums map.


Courtesy of the artist.

Creative-in-Residence: Juntae TeeJay Hwang

Residency July 10-Sept. 21

Wednesday Happenings, 1-3 p.m.

Observe, reflect and interact with the DAM's current Creative-in-Residence, Juntae TeeJay Hwang, as he explores performance art in the museum during Wednesday Happenings. Included with general admission.

Body, Gesture, Gaze

  • July 10, level 1/Jordan Casteel
  • July 17, level 2/Treasures of British Art

Voice & Breath

  • July 24, level 4/Eyes On: Erika Harrsch
  • July 31, Martin Plaza

Saturday Studies: Performance Workshops, 3-4 p.m.

Learn a performance and participate in a museum happening at Saturday Studies: Performance Workshops. TeeJay will guide visitors through a thematic performance workshop that will end with a performance in the museum. Included with general admission, but space is limited. Online registration required.

Body, Gesture, Gaze

  • July 13, level 1/Jordan Casteel
  • July 20, level 2/Treasures of British Art

Voice & Breath

  • July 27, level 4/Eyes On: Erika Harrsch
  • Aug. 3, Martin Plaza

Paint Studio and Weekend Artist Demonstrations

Open during museum hours

This summer in the studio on the first floor of the Hamilton Building, explore how painters use color and light to capture the world around them, experiment with watercolors, paint a portrait or create your own abstract masterpiece. The Paint Studio is open seven days a week. Demonstrations by local artists from noon to 3 p.m. each weekend. Included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger.

July Artist Demonstrations

  • July 6-7: Leticia Tanguma, Portraits in Oil and Acrylic
  • July 13-14 & 20-21: Angela Craven, Empathy Painting
  • July 27-28 & August 3-4: Lucía Rodríguez, Color as Light


Free First Saturday

July 6, 10 a.m.5 p.m.

Enjoy the DAM’s art collections and family-friendly activities for free. There’s bilingual fun with the storytelling program Cuentos del Arte at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Stop by the Paint Studio for artist demonstrations from noon to 3 p.m. Free general admission tickets will be available on-site starting at 10 a.m.

Free First Saturday is made possible by Your 6 Hometown Toyota Stores and the citizens who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). #ThanksSCFD #GraciasSCFD

Create Playdate

July 10, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. (extended summer hours!)

Drop in with your little ones, ages 3 to 5, and meet up with other tots and their grownups for storytime, artmaking and more! Included with general admission, which is free for members and kids 18 and younger. No reservations required.


Drop-In Drawing

July 9, 1–3 p.m.

Join artist Anna Kaye at this fun and informal monthly creative art session. In July we’ll take inspiration from The Light Show. Bring a drawing or sketching project of your own or get started on something new. All ranges of drawing experience welcome! Drawing materials provided, but you are welcome to bring your own supplies. Please note that only sketchpads 14 x 17 inches or smaller, graphite pencils and kneaded erasers are permitted in the galleries.

Meet on level 1. Included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger. No reservations required.

Installation image of Eyes On: Jonathan Saiz.

Mindful Looking: Jonathan Saiz’s #WhatisUtopia

July 16, 1 p.m.

Every month, Mindful Looking invites you to slow down and spend time with a single work of art. This month, immerse yourself in an installation including a column covered with 10,000 tiny drawings, paintings and sculptures and five additional framed works, in Eyes On: Jonathan Saiz. With interpretive specialist Danielle St. Peter, explore the many elements of Saiz's central work, #WhatisUtopia, and contemplate the dazzling and thought-provoking effect of these parts as a whole. Included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger.

Unplugged: Drawing in the Galleries

July 19, 46 p.m.

Wind down your week in the galleries with Unplugged, a program that explores different ways to turn down the tempo and step into a state of relaxation, reflection and calm. In July, join artist Anna Kaye to explore drawing in the galleries. The Unplugged experience changes each month. Included in general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger.

Drop-In Writing

July 23, 13 p.m.

Explore your creativity through the written word in our informal writing sessions with Michael Henry, executive director of the Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Bring your own writing projects or get started on something new. Open to all levels, from published authors to the occasional journaler! Materials provided.

This overview of July happenings does not include all exhibitions, events and programs available this month. See the museum website for complete information.

Download PDF of press release.