Staff brainstorming and planning begins.
The DAM, Expanded and Reimagined
The Denver Art Museum reopened its expanded and reimagined campus to the public with a free general admission day on October 24, 2021, unveiling all seven levels of its iconic Gio Ponti-designed Lanny & Sharon Martin Building (formerly the North Building) and the new Anna & John J. Sie Welcome Center.
Designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti and Denver-based James Sudler Associates, the Martin Building first opened in 1971. Its seven-story silhouette is one of the first-ever high-rise art museums and is the only completed building in North America by the renowned Italian modernist Gio Ponti.
On the occasion of the Martin Building’s 50th anniversary, it has been fully restored and renovated throughout, which includes realizing Ponti’s original vision for the 7th floor to span both towers, expanding gallery space, and offering visitor access to stunning city and mountain views.
The building will showcase the museum's encyclopedic collections, including acclaimed works from the architecture and design, Asian art, Indigenous arts of North America, Northwest Coast and Alaska Native, European and American art before 1900, Latin American and art of the ancient Americas, photography, textile art and fashion, and Western American art collections, while putting its nationally recognized educational programming at the center of the campus.
The completion of the campus expands the museum’s ability to serve the community, welcome guests to our city, and preserve and present priceless works of art from cultures around the world and throughout history for generations to come.
Floor by Floor Overview
Art Conservation and Technical Studies: The redesigned facility also includes an expanded, purpose-built laboratory for art conservation and technical studies on the lower level of the Martin Building. Technical study and conservation treatment of the museum’s more than 70,000 collection objects is central to its ongoing mission to preserve cultural heritage for generations to come.
Sie Welcome Center: The Welcome Center serves as an entry point and a destination for visitors and seamlessly connects all aspects of the museum campus. The center's façade is comprised of a series of 25-foot-tall, 8-foot-wide curved structural glass panels with insulated glazing—an unprecedented feat of engineering and the first building of its kind.
Restaurants: The Ponti restaurant combines art and dining, presenting a locally sourced and seasonally inspired menu with high standards of sustainability. The museum will also offer quick-service casual dining at Café Gio, with both indoor and outdoor seating.
Learning and Engagement Center: The new learning center features more than 12,000 square feet of flexible programming space, workshop rooms, the Singer Pollack Family Wonderscape, and the 5,600 square foot Creative Hub.
Special Exhibitions Gallery: A 6,500 square foot renovated gallery that will feature special exhibitions drawn primarily from the DAM’s collections. This space will open with the thematic exhibition ReVisión: Art in the Americas, which brings together works from the museum's internationally acclaimed Latin American and art of the ancient Americas collections.
Level 1 Mural: Denver-based artists Emily Hope Dobkin and Olive Moya were selected to create a new large-scale mural entitled I Invent It, My Hands Draw a Cloud, which will be prominently featured on the main level. The new piece will serve as a beacon of welcoming to students, families, and visitors of all ages.
Northwest Coast and Alaska Native Gallery: Featuring more than 2,500 square feet of reimagined, immersive gallery space, the revitalized Northwest Coast and Alaska Native Gallery will present works by Indigenous artists from the western coastal region of North America, stretching from Puget Sound to southeastern Alaska.
Design Galleries: Home to nearly 10,000 square feet of new and renovated space within the building’s original footprint, the expanded design galleries will feature more than 400 objects spanning two exhibitions: By Design: Stories and Ideas Behind Objects and Gio Ponti: Designer of a Thousand Talents.
Design Studio: An interactive space for all ages, created with the idea that design is everywhere. Visitors can intersect with designers in this space as well as work on their own design making and thinking.
Indigenous Arts of North America Galleries: Works in the collection include objects created by artists from more than 250 Indigenous nations across the United States and Canada, and from artistic traditions within these cultures spanning the past 2000 years. Comprised of 20,000 square feet, the reinstalled Indigenous Arts of North America galleries will present nearly 600 works organized in two sections, one presenting works according to region and the other according to theme.
Latin American Art and Art of the Ancient Americas Galleries: In this 20,000-square-foot reinstallation, the museum's art of the ancient Americas and Latin American art collections will be exhibited in adjoining galleries, featuring more than 1,000 rare works and artifacts that present an expansive history of artistic creation in Latin America. These collections—among the most comprehensive in the United States—span 3,500 years of art and culture in Latin America and will be on view for the first time in one unified space.
Asian Art Galleries: Comprising approximately 20,000 square feet, the DAM’s reinstalled Asian art galleries will house approximately 850 works spanning 5,000 years drawn from the museum’s exceptional collection, many on view to the public for the first time. With a mix of treasures from the DAM's collection as well as exciting recent additions, the galleries will present revitalized, broadened narratives emphasizing the continuity and connections between Asian artistic traditions across time.
European Art Before 1900 Galleries: These reinstalled galleries will feature approximately 65 works drawn from the DAM’s collection of paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts to present a chronological history of European art through the centuries. The 20,000 square foot installation will trace the development of expressive themes as they evolved over time, from the Gothic style to the humanism of the Renaissance, to Baroque grandeur and finally to the decorative theatricality of the Rococo.
Textile Art and Fashion Galleries: With 4,000 square feet of gallery space, these galleries will explore the evolution of the tailored suit for the female form over the course of the 20th century and beyond. Featuring approximately 70 silhouettes from 1900 through the present day, Suited: Empowered Feminine Fashion will be sourced from the DAM's collection along with loans from History Colorado Center.
Photography Galleries: Spanning 2,800 square feet of the Martin Building’s sixth floor, the photography collection reinstallation features approximately 60 works from the 20th and 21st centuries in an inaugural two-part exhibition titled Curious Visions, which explores photographic experimentations with abstraction from the mid-1900s to present.
Western American Art Galleries: The Petrie Institute of Western American Art shepherds a leading collection of art of the American west spanning two centuries. Works from this collection will be on view in a completely reimagined display across 15,300 square feet, unified in a single space for the first time. This new installation will tell the history of American art from a distinctly Western perspective, strengthened by the DAM’s unique collection and its location in the heart of the Mountain West.
Rooftop and Outdoor Spaces
Rooftop Terrace: Two new rooftop terraces will offer public access to downtown and mountain views for the first time.
Outdoor Spaces: The expanded Kemper Courtyard and outdoor spaces include a sensory garden, an amphitheater space for performances, and areas for student lunch breaks, events, and other opportunities.
A series of events accompanied the opening of the new Martin Building to celebrate the completed campus and thank the community for their support.
The Sie Welcome Center features two new dining options on level one. The Ponti restaurant, conceived in collaboration with James Beard Award winner and celebrated Denver chef Jennifer Jasinski, combines art and dining, presenting a locally sourced and seasonally inspired menu with high standards of sustainability. The quick-service Café Gio, located across the main hall from The Ponti, offers casual dining with both indoor and outdoor seating.
The museum’s newly renovated Martin Building and Daniel Libeskind designed Hamilton Building are available for corporate meetings, parties, dinners, or galas. Event spaces can accommodate parties for an intimate group or up to 1,000 guests. The museum’s in-house caterer offers a wide variety of options to delight your guests.
Originally designed by renowned Italian modernist architect Gio Ponti and Denver-based James Sudler Associates, the 210,000-square-foot Martin Building opened to the public in October 1971, and is considered one of the first-ever high-rise art museums. More than one million reflective tiles cover the building’s exterior, and its two-towered façade has long been an iconic city feature. The museum will celebrate the Martin Building’s opening this fall in time for its 50th anniversary.
The DAM conducts feasibility study and needs assessment.
The DAM begins fundraising for the North Building Project.
Site and project master planning phase begins with Tryba Architects of Denver.
The DAM selects Fentress Architects of Denver with Machado Silvetti of Boston as the architecture team for the overall campus reunification and North Building renovation project.
The DAM announces North Building project, its scope and a $25 million lead gift from Lanny and Sharon Martin.
Collections staff begin the lengthy process of moving more than 50,000 artworks to safe storage offsite.
The DAM hosts free architect forum to share design plans with members and the public.
Denver voters overwhelmingly support Elevate Denver Bond funding for infrastructural upgrades at the DAM and several other cultural facilities in the city.
The DAM hosts community free day and celebration of the North Building, including performances and hands-on activities to say "See You Later" to the North Building prior to renovation.
All onsite activity—including school tours, exhibitions, collection presentations, and events—move to the Hamilton Building.
The DAM celebrates groundbreaking of the North Building renovation project.
Ongoing renovation work includes new plumbing, HVAC, access upgrades, technology, insulation, and lighting, as well as construction of the Sie Welcome Center.
Public reopening of all spaces, under the new name Lanny & Sharon Martin Building.
Visit our online newsroom for press inquiries and media resources.
The Martin Building project will expand the museum’s ability to serve the community, welcome guests to our city, and preserve and present priceless works of art from cultures around the world and throughout history for generations to come.
You can find answers to frequently asked questions about the Martin Building project below. If you have further questions not answered in these sections, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Building Renovation FAQ
What is the Martin Building Project?
An architectural gem in the heart of Denver’s downtown Golden Triangle neighborhood, the museum’s North Building, renamed the Martin Building, celebrated its 50th birthday in 2021. The vision for renovating the iconic Gio Ponti-designed structure is to unify the museum campus to serve audiences reflective of our shared community; to illuminate collections; to highlight the museum’s exemplary education programs, and to deliver excellent programs in contemporary spaces.
Reopened to the public on October 24, 2021, the completed campus transformation project included the addition of a new welcome center, expanded public gallery spaces, flexible event spaces, and significant outdoor improvements, as well as the reinstallation of DAM’s celebrated permanent collections through a more inclusive lens. Updates to the Martin Building also include critical safety and operations systems and replacing aging infrastructure and equipment to enable continued public service for the next 50 years.
What does the renovation mean for the community and its visitors?
The completed Martin Building renovation will unify the museum campus to better serve a broad spectrum of audiences and community needs; to illuminate collections; to highlight the museum’s exemplary education programs, and to deliver excellent programs in contemporary spaces. The museum serves more than 700,000 visitors per year, half of them attending for free, including all visitors 18 and under who enjoy free general admission every day thanks to the DAM’s Free for Kids program. The improvements in the Martin Building project will enable the museum to better and more safely serve the community, including school groups and visitors with different abilities.
Why did you decide to close the building all at once for the renovation?
Closing the entire building enabled the museum to work on multiple pieces of the project at a time, with the goal of completing the construction work needed in the shortest possible timeline.
Why was the North Building renamed the Martin Building?
In celebration of a $25 million lead gift from Denver Art Museum’s Board Chair, Lanny Martin and his wife, Sharon, the North Building has been renamed the Martin Building.
Who were your construction and architecture partners?
The project design was developed by the team of Fentress Architects of Denver and Machado Silvetti of Boston. Saunders is serving as our construction partner. Grundy Construction Management & Consulting serves as the Owner’s Representative for the project.
How much public money was used for this project?
This project featured a $3 million allocation from the 2007 Better Denver Bonds program to renovate the Bonfils-Stanton Gallery on Level 1 of the Martin Building. Thanks to the voters of Denver, the museum also received $35.5 million from the Elevate Denver General Obligation Bond, approved by city voters in November 2017. The museum matched each public bond dollar with three privately raised dollars.
Have there been any major cost overruns, or were you still on budget and on time?
The project was both on budget and construction was completed on time.
What are the access upgrades that are new to the Martin Building?
The design team has included an ADA compliance partner throughout the project. The team has strongly focused on meeting all accessibility needs in the new Welcome Center as well as accessibility upgrades were a priority for the museum.
The Architecture FAQ
Has the original Gio Ponti-designed structure remained intact?
The original Gio Ponti-designed building has stayed whole. The connecting corridor between the Martin Building towers and the south structure, called Silber Hall, has been partially rebuilt in order to connect to the new Sie Welcome Center, and support the build-out of the lower level, improving natural light.
Was anything demolished during construction?
The south structure, which housed the old restaurant and served as the entrance to the main building, was removed to make way for the Sie Welcome Center that house The Ponti, a new full-service restaurant, Café Gio, a new quick-service café, an events space and a ticketing desk.
What will the Sie Welcome Center add to the museum?
The Sie Welcome Center includes 50,000 square feet on three levels, unifying the campus. Upon opening, this significant addition will feature visitor-centric amenities including a restaurant, quick-service café and improved wayfinding, along with dynamic and flexible program spaces and a state-of-the-art event space. The new space also includes expanded art storage and a purpose-built conservation lab.
How much new public space was added to the Martin Building after its renovation?
More than 33,000 square feet of new space was added to the Denver Art Museum when the project completed, including expanded gallery space on level 2 and 7 of the Martin Building.
Did the museum work with community groups to gather input on design and gallery installations?
Yes, the museum collaborated with local creatives, artists, and constituent groups to gather feedback on collection presentation and how to best share this information with our communities in metro Denver and beyond.