Architecture, Design & Graphics
For more than two decades, the DAM 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 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
Architecture, Design & Graphics Gallery, Level 2, North Building
The Davis W. and Ellen N. Moore Gallery, Level 6, 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 the sixth floor of the North Building. A series of rotating spaces on the second floor focuses on modern and contemporary architecture, furniture, and industrial and graphic design. These exhibition spaces showcase major designers and movements from this period.
For more than two decades, 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 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.
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.
R. Craig Miller was named the first curator of architecture, design, and graphics that year, 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 20th-century graphic design.
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
These publications are available for purchase in the Museum 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.
- USDesign 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: The American Federation of Arts, 1996.
Essential to the department’s development and continued vitality is the Design Council of the Denver Art Museum, a collaboration of design professionals and enthusiasts supporting the Department of Architecture, Design and Graphics. Since its founding in 1990, the Design Council has been an enthusiastic partner in enriching the museum’s collections with outstanding acquisitions, and to making the collections accessible to the general public, students, and the design community. The generosity of its members and the proceeds from its annual fundraising activities have resulted in the museum’s acquisition of more than 300 objects—including modern and contemporary masterworks by designers such as Borek Sipek, Charles and Ray Eames, Frank Gehry, Ingo Maurer, Tom Dixon, and Marc Newson—with others obtained from private individuals and other donors through Design Council’s influence. Read more about all of the DAM support groups on the Support Groups page.
- Darrin Alfred, Associate Curator of Architecture, Design and Graphics
- Kati Woock, Curatorial Assistant
- Marjorie Garner, Design Council Coordinator
- Lindsey Housel, Master Teacher