A weekend can never be filled with too much art. I spent last weekend soaking in as much art as I possibly could. If you ever have the chance to visit Denver, Colorado, please make it a priority to visit Denver’s Art Museum. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. This museum, surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains, has so much art that one day isn’t enough to see it all.
The first thing that will catch your eye is the assertive and many angled Frederic C. Hamilton building. The building is a piece of art itself and it will impress you both inside and out. Built by architect Daniel Libeskind in 2006, this building has over 350 different angles inside and has ample room to house a large collection of modern art. Connected to the Frederic C. Hamilton building is the also impressive North Building, which was built by architect Gio Ponti, and is shaped like a modern castle.
After arriving early, we were able to take the Architect tour which started around 10:15AM. Our tour guide, Denise (I hope that’s how her name is spelled), was very knowledgeable, funny, and gave us a very well-run 45 minute tour, explaining how all the structures were built and interesting facts for each of the galleries. I highly recommend everyone take the architect tour as it will help give you insight into these unique buildings.
The Hamilton building houses much of the modern art, but also contains the African and Oceanic art. I spent a good deal of time in the Oceanic art section, which featured old fabric made from the bark of trees and finely decorated or stamped. This collection focuses on the art located in the South Pacific region. I couldn’t believe how close I was to the bark cloth, which was created in the late 18th century. It’s amazing the amount of work it must have taken to create this piece.
After looking at the incredible art in the Hamilton building I headed to the North building, where an impressive Asian art collection is located. There were great works from Japan to India. What I really thought was clever was having the more modern pieces mixed in with the ancient pieces. It was a great way to compare similarities and differences between the old and the new art. You could see how the modern artists reflected their culture, yet create a work of art all their own.
Personally, I enjoyed the India collection. My favorite piece was entitled, Hayagriva Mandala. Using mixed colored sand, monk artists from Seraje Monastic University in India would create intricate designs using a simple metal tool and working at a quiet and slow pace. They created a work of art out of meditation and devotion. This particular piece was created in 1996. One interesting fact I learned is that once the monks have completed their master piece, they destroy it believing that you can’t live in the past but must always move on to the future.
Another of my favorite works of art was located in the bottom floor of the Hamilton building. Created by set designer Sandy Skoglund, this installation is called Fox Games. Depicting life-size foxes crawling, jumping, and looking like they are causing mayhem in a restaurant, the dull gray colored foxes stand out against the bright red tables and chairs. If you look closely, you will find one red fox just blending into the background.
I enjoyed this piece because you took a little path in the corner of the building and it felt as if you were wandering around this bright red restaurant seeing the amount of damage all the foxes were causing. If you look closely at the tables you will see that Skoglund placed red bread, plates, and silverware on each of the tables along with red flowers. A whimsically large installation, this creation gives a nod to the artist’s talent in set design.
I found the staff at the Denver Art Museum to be very helpful and knowledgeable. It was also very easy to find what section you were looking for and plenty of information for each piece of art. There are two gift shops with plenty of cool and wonderful gifts to purchase. If you become hungry during your time at the museum, there are three restaurants; the Palettes Restaurant located inside the North Building, the Mad Greens Inspired Eats, and the Mad Beans and Wine Café, which are both located right outside the museum in the Martin Plaza.
For those with children, there are plenty of activities to keep them engaged. Look for the Kid’s Corner, daily art activities, and many monthly programs. From what I observed, the children seemed to be having a blast.
I look forward to my next visit to Denver’s art museum and will keep you posted on what I see and do. I encourage everyone to visit this great museum. There is plenty a variety of art for everyone’s taste. Did I mention that admission to the museum is free the first Friday of every month? Now you truly have no excuse not to visit!
The Official Denver Art Museum Website: http://denverartmuseum.org/
Written By: Kristy Trowbridge