Denver Art Museum: “The viewers complete the art.” (Marcel Duchamp)

After the conference, I had about three hours before my flight.  As the Denver Art Museum (DAM) was new to me, and it was quite close to my hotel, I determined to pay a short visit to the museum. The museum began as the Denver Artists’ Club in the 1890’s, and had a number of temporary homes.  Its North Building which was opened in 1971, was designed by the famed Italian architect Gio Ponti,  The new Hamilton Building completed 6 years ago,  was designed by another famed architect Daniel Libeskind.  This museum has the greatest collection of Native American art and 68,000 other art objects.  I wouldn’t consider it as a very big museum, but the collection includes a bit of everything: Western American Art, African and Oceanic Art, Impressionism, Modern and Contemporary art, American Indian Art, Asian Art, European and American Art and Pre-Columbian Art.

Most of all, my deepest impression about the Denver Art Museum is the interactive features, and the internal architectural design allowing lots of large spaces on each floor for families and children.  The Denver Airport is the largest airport in the United States. I don’t like it, because it is too big.   The Colorado Convention Center is by far the largest Center where my conferences were held.  I hated it because the total space of 2.2 million square feet does not facilitate close interaction of participants.  Now, when I came to the Denver Art Museum, I love it.  I visited many museums in different parts of the world.  I found that this is the most friendly museum to families and children with the most effective interactive educational programs.  I was so impressed that I wanted to convey my message to one of the staff.  I bumped into a gentleman (who dressed in suit) in the elevator.  I asked him, “Do you work here”.  “Yes,” he said.  He was thinking that I wanted to complain about something…you know if I don’t smile, I don’t look very friendly!  Then I told him about my impression.  He was very happy and accepted my compliments.  When I came home trying to find out more information about this museum, I found that this gentleman I spoke to is actually the Museum Director Christoph Heinrich!

Check out this popular post  on the museum blog:  “How to pronounce Yves Saint Laurent, with the DAM Director”.  It was very humorous and spoke about the leadership style of the Director.  The museum is now a fun place, where kids will enjoy, learn,  grow and blossom.  Love it!

Here are some photos of the external look of the Denver Art Museum.

This art installation of painted steel is called: Lao Tzu, 1991, by Mark di Suvero

When I visit museums, I always find a few pieces that are particularly interesting to me.  Here are two pieces that I would like to share with you.

The first one is the “Mud Woman” installation 2011, by Roxanne Swentzell.

Please also check out this time-lapse video which shows the creation of Roxanne Swentzell’s sculpture Mud Woman Rolls On, created on site in the DAM’s American Indian galleries from January through September 2011.  This installation fills the entry lobby of the North Building’s third floor, which is an area dedicated to American Indian art.  Here, the artist and her assistant interact with visitors. The Mud Woman is the earth mother, and the children are all of us.  Isn’t it amazing?

The other piece is called “Fox Games” , 1989 by Sandy Skoglund.  It features a series of dining tables and sculptures of foxes jumping all over the area. Except for the foxes, everything is in bright red!  Did you see the foxes actually jumping?

This was the last piece I saw in the museum.  Then I went to the book store. As recommended by the store keeper, I bought a book named Denver Art Museum, Highlights from the Collection, 2006.  I like what I read in the Preface, written by the Director:   “But great art and outstanding architecture do not constitute a successful museum experience. To paraphrase the artist Marcel Duchamp: the work of art is not performed by the artist alone.  The viewer completes the art”.

Having read this, I asked myself:  “Did I complete the art?”.  I felt that I did.  As I was in a hurry to catch my flight, I had to leave the museum, reluctantly, but   saturated with the art experience.  I hope this short account of my visit to the DAM will whet your appetite so that you will come to visit the museum and appreciate the wonderful artwork.


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