By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver Art Museum will reopen Wednesday for members and welcome back the general public Friday since it closed more than three months ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A new exhibition called “Norman Rockwell: Imagining Freedom” will also open on Friday showcasing the artist’s work on depicting freedom as well as modern interpretations of similar themes.

(credit: CBS)

“We couldn’t have imagined how poignant it would be at this moment at time,” said Andrea Fulton, deputy director and chief marketing officer for the Denver Art Museum. “It’s a show that really explores the role of illustration and artwork at a key point in our history in the 1930s to 1960s.”

While the museum was closed, staff had to maintain the facilities and secure their collections while also preparing to open this exhibition. Construction has also continued on the expansion and renovation of the site north of the museum.

Visitors are encouraged to buy tickets in advance online, capacity is limited to 25% with timed entry for guests. Some tickets can be purchased across from the main entrance depending on availability.

One entrance and one exit will control the flow of people and help encourage social distancing inside.

“When you come in, we ask that everyone have their mask on,” Fulton told CBS4 on Tuesday. “We are installing a series of graphics around the museum and signage designed to help keep people safe and help them understand how to move about the museum.”

(credit: CBS)

The exhibition focuses on Rockwell’s work during the 1940s responding to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms. Artists were called upon by the government at the time to help build support and rally the country leading up to World War II. Roosevelt gave a speech in 1941 on the four versions including Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear.

“His role in helping the American public sort of understand what the government wanted to convey about World War II and other major issues, I just think it’s a really good opportunity for people to think for themselves what freedom means,” she said.

The Four Freedoms went on tour during the 1940s to more than a dozen cities including Denver, the work by Rockwell will once again be on display more than 70 years later. Some of the modern work pulls directly from the Four Freedom to create a new interpretation while many more are pieces addressing the subject with a different approach.

“We have actually put together a series of contemporary works by current artists addressing this idea of freedom and what does freedom mean.”

(credit: CBS)

The museum selected this exhibition years ago as it was scheduled to travel across the country but the timing not only allows for a new show to welcome in visitors. But also address the national conversation on racial justice and equity. It is an example of the role the arts play in society and what people have lacked while in quarantine because of the pandemic.

“We’ve seen people gravitating so much toward the arts as a place for respite and sort of feeling and so we’re thrilled again to be opening and giving people a place to go and to experience these beautiful objects,” Fulton said. “These stories that are told over time and throughout cultures and to connect with each other in this really challenging time.”

LINK: Denver Art Museum Visitor Guidelines

Shawn Chitnis

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