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Denver Art Museum Reopened

October 22, 2021

Denver Art Museum campus. Photo by James Florio Photography, courtesy of the Denver Art Museum.

The Denver Art Museum (DAM) celebrated the official public opening of its expanded and reimagined campus with a free general admission day on October 24, 2021, unveiling all eight levels of its iconic Gio Ponti-designed Lanny and Sharon Martin Building (formerly referred to as the North Building), and the new Anna and John J. Sie Welcome Center. Part of an overall campus reunification and building renovation project designed by Machado Silvetti and Fentress Architects, the campus reopening coincided with the Martin Building’s 50th anniversary.

Photo by Atom Stevens

The Martin Building has been fully restored and renovated throughout, which includes the addition of 33,328 square feet of new gallery and public space, fulfilling Ponti’s original vision for visitor access to stunning 7th-floor views; the addition of skylights that reveal new angles of the building’s design; and exterior improvements such as lighting and revitalization of the glass tiles on the building’s façade. The renovation also includes updating environmental and other key systems with the latest technology. The completed project received LEED Silver certification. Infrastructure and safety upgrades include a new elevator core, which adds two additional elevators and a transparent public staircase for improved visitor flow, along with updated mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, new windows, new flooring and new exterior wall insulation. The transformed Martin Building will showcase the museum's encyclopedic collections from around the world and throughout history, while putting its nationally recognized educational programming at the center of the campus.

The components of the renovation, expansion and addition

October also marked the opening of the museum’s new Sie Welcome Center, which connects the Hamilton and Martin buildings, with a nod to Gio Ponti’s original vision. The new building, crowned by an elliptical glass event and program space, visually connects the campus, creating improved spaces for ticketing and guest services, as well as two new dining options. The lower level houses a purpose-built art conservation and technical studies laboratory.

View out from the Sturm Grand Pavilion on the second floor of the Welcome Center. Photo by James Florio Photography

The 50,000-square-foot Sie Welcome Center’s second story 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 to use curved panels in this way. The welcome center serves as an entry point and a destination for visitors and seamlessly connects all aspects of the museum campus.

DAM's renovated and expanded Martin Building and Sie Welcome Center have garnered local and national acclaim. Below is a selection of notable coverage of the opening and updated DAM campus:

“The Denver Art Museum, responsive, interactive and fashion-conscious, transforms its headquarters into the institution that current-day curators dream of.” – Ray Mark Rinaldi, “What a Museum Wants to Be in the 21st Century,” The New York Times

“...the renovations and additions to Ponti’s neglected masterpiece have revealed the gentle classic that was hiding in plain sight.” – Michael J. Lewis, “A Divisive Building’s Unifying Revamp,” The Wall Street Journal

“Jorge Silvetti and Curt Fentress have given the DAM its money’s worth; everything has been thoroughly thought out, elegantly conceived and beautifully executed. It’s a towering achievement.” – Michael Paglia, “The Denver Art Museum's Makeover Is a Towering Achievement,” Westword

“...the [Welcome Center's] curved form, complemented by a sunken sculpture garden, serves as a central pivot to a constellation of stars. Architecturally, the building speaks a language of hospitality rather than signature design.” – Mimi Zeiger, “The Denver Art Museum Gets a Long-Needed Refresh,” METROPOLIS

“...the Sie Welcome Center gives Denver a surprising, and surprisingly compelling, bit of urbanism, turning a staid high-art ghetto into a moment of genuine architectural theater.” – Ian Volner, “Gio Ponti’s incongruously stolid Denver Art Museum sprouts a space-age appendage,” The Architect's Newspaper

“The Denver Art Museum this week unveiled a thoughtful and physically stunning overhaul of the Martin Building — it’s been not just renovated but “reimagined,” the curators like to say…” – Joanne Ostrow, “Denver Art Museum Shakes Off the Stuffiness as it Unveils a $150 Million, Forward-looking Overhaul,” Colorado Sun

To learn more about the project and the design process behind it, click below.

Denver Art Museum
DAM Welcome Center Wins Award
Denver Art Museum, Project Story
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