Behind the Scenes at the DAM

French Shopping Fun at the Denver Art Museum

What fun it was to create the Passport to Paris Shop. I knew the three exhibitions in Passport to Paris would be fabulously rich with amazing artworks from the Wadsworth Atheneum, the private collection of Frederic Hamilton, and the DAM’s collection. I also knew the exhibition design would be stunning as our exhibition team is truly a group of professionals and artists in their own right.

The challenge my team and I faced was to extend the experience so the Passport to Paris Shop had a similar feel while offering a unique assortment of products. We started with the integration of the lovely blue wall color that was used in one of the galleries and added a brocade fabric that was used on benches in the galleries to pull the visitor’s experience into the shop.

Since the Court to Café exhibition in Passport to Paris includes chandeliers we added chandeliers to our space for continuity in the design flow. We also wanted to match the wonderfully decorative frames on the artworks on view. So we searched out ornately framed mirrors to add light to the space, decorate the walls, and continue to tell a rich story.

We continued the visual experience by creating a salon-style assortment of framed prints representing 14 images from two of the three Passport to Paris exhibitions: Court to Café and Nature as Muse. In another nod to Court to Café, the talented artisans on the Flower Council of DAM volunteers recreated the lovely arrangement in the Odilon Redon painting Bouquet of Flowers in a Green Vase, which is on view in that exhibition. The final element of decor was to find shelves for the center of the shop that had a Parisian flair and were not typical retail fixtures. We found an American manufacturer of metal baker’s racks that fit the bill.

All of the mirrors, baker’s racks, and chandeliers are available for sale. The Passport to Paris shop offers more than 700 items from more than 60 vendors. A number of products are manufactured in France, including glasses, napkins, tea towels, lavender sachets, and soaps. The selection also has the largest assortment of image-specific products (120) that we’ve ever carried for a special exhibition and includes both framed and unframed prints, magnets, mouse pads, cards, prints, key chains, notepads, and puzzles. It was fun finding and grouping products that convey a French flourish such as Eiffel Towers in numerous forms, berets, perfume bottles, mirrors (large and small), hats, scarves, t-shirts, hoodies, French-milled soaps, and much, much more. We hope you enjoy your visit to the exhibition and to the special shop we created for it.

Passport to Paris, on view until February 9,  is a ticketed exhibition. Tickets can be purchased at the museum or online. Members are welcome to visit the Passport to Paris Shop with no ticket (or passport) required; just tell the audio attendant that you are going to the Passport to Paris Shop. And if you can't make it to the DAM or would like to purchase something after your visit, please visit our online shop for Passport to Paris items and more.

Greg McKay is the associate director of retail operations at the Denver Art Museum. Greg has been at the DAM since 2006 and his favorite collection is the Motherwell collection. He loves finding products that our visitors respond to, and help them remember their experience here.