Oct 15, 2021 - News
Denver Art Museum gets a $175 million makeover
The exterior of the Martin Building at the Denver Art Museum. Photo: Eric Stephenson/courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

After more than three years of construction, not to mention last year's pandemic delays, the Denver Art Museum's $175 million renovation is, at last, complete.

What's next: Doors open to the public with a free admission day Oct. 24.

Why it matters: The pricey project could help put our city on the map as a cultural destination, boosting tourism, driving economic growth and even accelerating its population boom.

The big picture: Based on the designs of the late Gio Ponti, who helped plan the museum, the expanded campus offers a chic, brightly lit welcome center, numerous upgraded galleries, two high-profile restaurants, a sunken pavilion, rooftop terrace and massive learning center.

  • The revamp also features a complete reconstruction of the Ponti Building — now called the Lanny and Sharon Martin Building, thanks to the couple's $25 million donation.
  • The major renovation added the Sie Welcome Center and 35,000 square feet to the museum's famed, half-century-old North Building.

How it happened: The facelift was funded by private donors and Denver voters, who in 2017 approved the Elevate Denver Bonds to provide $35.5 million in upgrades. The museum also matched public investment dollars with privately raised capital at a 3-to-1 ratio.

The Western American Art Galleries. Photo: James Florio/courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

Zoom in: Some of the updated collections include the Northwest Coast and Alaska Native galleries; Indigenous Arts of North America galleries; Latin American Art and Art of the Ancient Americas galleries; and Asian Art galleries.

  • The entire museum now features bilingual art labels in English and Spanish.
  • The Sie Welcome Center is expected to be a particular draw with its two new Jennifer Jasinksi-directed restaurants, along with a state-of-the-art education center — one of the largest in any art museum nationwide.

The bottom line: The Denver Art Museum serves as a top cultural attraction in the metro area, averaging about 800,000 visitors annually in recent years, according to the museum. And that number could grow a lot larger, thanks to the revamp.

  • Yes, but: Only time will tell if the cash infusion will be a worthwhile investment.

What to watch: The museum's reopening coincides with the Martin building's 50th anniversary.

The Kemper Courtyard. Photo: James Florio/courtesy of the Denver Art Museum
The European art galleries. Photo: James Florio/courtesy of the Denver Art Museum
The Latin American art galleries. Photo: James Florio/courtesy of the Denver Art Museum
The Indigenous art of North America galleries. Photo: James Florio/courtesy of the Denver Art Museum
The Ponti restaurant. Photo: James Florio/courtesy of the Denver Art Museum
The Martin Building's rooftop terrace. Photo: James Florio/courtesy of the Denver Art Museum
Duncan Hall. Photo: James Florio/courtesy of the Denver Art Museum
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