The Denver Art Museum was founded in 1893 as the Denver Artists' Club. Today it is one of the largest art museums between Chicago and the West Coast with global art collections that represent cultures around the world as well as work by artists from Denver and the Rocky Mountain region. Internationally known for its holdings of American Indian art, the museum has also assembled an extensive group of pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art objects now considered one of the finest collections in the world.
Throughout its history, the Denver Art Museum has had several temporary homes, including the public library, a downtown mansion, and a portion of the Denver City and County Building. In 1971, the museum opened the North Building, now known as the Martin Building, one of only two buildings in North America designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti.
When the North Building opened, it was viewed as a “forerunner in the worldwide transformation of the temple-style museum into a proliferation of unprecedented and startling architectural forms." This bold tradition continued in 2000, with the selection of Daniel Libeskind for a visionary take on an expansion of the museum campus.
The resulting Frederic C. Hamilton Building opened to the public in 2006. The Hamilton Building includes the museum’s major exhibition spaces for special presentations and traveling art shows while the newly opened Martin Building is home to the museum’s encyclopedic collections and innovative Learning & Engagement Center, which brings the museum’s world-renowned museum education programming for all ages to the center of the campus.
In 2015, following efforts to focus on equal access to the arts and art education for young people, the Denver Art Museum announced its groundbreaking Free for Kids program, underwriting admission for all youth ages 18 and under. The program was created with leadership and support from museum trustee Scott Reiman, and additional support from corporate sponsors.
In 2016, following several years of increased attendance growth as well as a change in how the museum serves the wider community, the Denver Art Museum announced a significant renovation and expansion of the North end of the campus in order to better serve its 800,000 annual visitors. And in October 2021, the Denver Art Museum opened its reimagined expanded campus which includes the complete renovation of the 50-year-old Ponti-designed building, as well as the new Anna and John J. Sie Welcome Center, which houses guest services and two dining options.
The Denver Art Museum has more than 70,000 works of art across 12 permanent collections.
- African Art
- Architecture and Design
- Art of the Ancient Americas
- Asian Art
- European and American Art Before 1900
- Indigenous Arts of North America
- Latin American Art
- Modern and Contemporary Art
- Oceanic Art
- Textile Art and Fashion
- Western American Art
Spans nearly four millennia and includes examples of the artistry developed by communities throughout Mesoamerica, Central and South America, and the Caribbean and Southwestern United States.
Includes more than 3,000 paintings, sculptures, and prints, including the internationally renowned Berger Collection composed of mostly British paintings, drawings, medieval works of art, and a significant collection of French 18th and 19th century drawings.
Features over 18,000 objects by artists from over 250 Indigenous nations, encapsulating multiple artistic traditions from ancient times to the present. Collectively, these artworks comprise one of the strongest and most comprehensive collections of Indigenous art in the world.
Totaling over 3,000 objects of works that represent the broad range of the artistic production from Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the Southwestern United States, it is the largest and most comprehensive collection of art produced in Latin America between the 1600s and the 1800s in the United States.
In the more than 80 years since the Denver Art Museum acquired its first piece of Oceanic art, the total collection has grown to approximately 1,000 objects. These are broadly representative of the vast artistic heritage of Oceania, but the greatest strengths are in 20th century New Guinea art and 19th century Polynesian art.
The photography department is recognized for its extensive holdings of landscape images from the American West, 1865-present. Collectively, these reflect both the achievements of outstanding artists and the shifting environmental attitudes of the last century and a half. The collection also has strong holdings of European and American modernist photography and of contemporary work.
The Petrie Institute of Western American Art (PIWAA) oversees the western American art collection, which encompasses two centuries of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper related to the West. Additionally, PIWAA promotes scholarship in the field through exhibitions, annual symposia, and publications. As a result, we are able to tell a comprehensive story of American art in the West.
The Denver Art Museum campus consists of the Lanny & Sharon Martin Building, the Frederic C. Hamilton Building, and the Bannock Adminstration Building.