VIDEO, PHOTOS: Denver Art Museum opens reimagined Martin Building

Renovation of DAM's north building was initiated by $25M gift

ROCKY MOUNTAIN PBS VIDEO: A look inside Denver Art Museum's reimagined campus
Rocky Mountain PBS

The Denver Art Museum has reopened the Martin Building, formerly called the Ponti or North Building, after renovation initiated by a $25 million lead gift by Lanny and Sharon Martin.

A celebration on Oct. 13 introduced reorganized exhibits and public spaces on seven levels and cited programming such as the extensive offerings for schoolchildren that has been delayed by construction, and celebrated ongoing visitor services throughout the DAM campus.

It's the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Ponti Building, which was designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti along with two Denver architects. Plans included the addition of a 650-seat auditorium, which was never built, hence there was some available space that was expanded.

Museum director Christoph Heinrich introduced Lanny Martin, chairman of the board of trustees, and complimented the architectural Firm Machado Silvetti for its patience. "Everybody had ideas," Heinrich noted. He also thanked the craftspeople who worked on the project and announced that the public will be welcomed on the weekend of Oct. 24 in a three-day open house to “this place of joy, creativity and healing.”

His talk included a “special thumbs-up to the 650 volunteers who are the backbone of Denver Art Museum visitor services.” He spoke of millions more donated for programming and a $175 million endowment.

Heinrich also congratulated the talented curators who imagined new galleries. In the past 10 years, museum staff realized that sizable open rooftop spaces were not being used as expected, while indoor spaces became crowded when a popular exhibit was in place. Note the special care devoted to the entries.

Attendees at a press preview were reminded to pay particular attention to the building's distinctive windows, part of Ponti's original design, with each frame a special view of Denver. Sizes and shapes vary and each is special.

Heinrich celebrated “the city's patronage of arts and culture” and Mayor Michael Hancock happily said: “I'm jazzed! Denver is a national leader in arts and culture.”

Attendees gathered first in the new Sie center, which features big curved windows used in the construction, a first.

Attention will turn to hosting the 200,000 kids who visit the museum each year, free, with each one gaining a new perspective on what creative people can offer to one's world, when you let them in ...

Architect Ponti, who died in 1979 at the age of 87, will long be remembered in Denver for his imagination and consideration for those who will visit his really inviting building.

The exhibits in the Martin Building include: Level One: Revision: Art in the Americas. Level Two: Architecture and design, Northwest Coast and Alaskan Indian Art. Level Three: Indigenous Arts of North America, including exploration of identity, reframing of history through Indigenous eyes and the continuum of creativity. Level Four: Latin American Art and the Art of the Ancient Americas. Level Five: Asian Art. Level Six: European Art before 1800; Photography; Textile Art and Fashion. Level 7: Western American Art.

Also on the campus is the Hamilton Building, with more recent European, Asian and traveling art exhibits.

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, public events frequently are canceled or rescheduled. Check with organizers before you go.


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