DENVER (CBS4) — A decade of envisioning, and years of renovations and construction, has resulted in the completion of one of Denver’s greatest art pieces ever: the new-and-improved Denver Art Museum. Museum Director Christoph Heinrich said the $150 million project included the addition of a brand new welcome center and the re-imagination of the iconic structure formally known as the “North Building.”
“Oct. 24 will be the public opening of a project that is 10 years in the making,” Heinrich told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “It is more than a facelift. It really is a new definition of the building.”
Heinrich is just one of many who oversaw the project from its inception in 2011. The goal was to unify the Denver Art Museum campus, which is split by 14th Street, while also adding new spaces to make the facilities best for an art connoisseur. One of the major changes: the 7th floor now spans both towers, expanding gallery space, and offering visitor access to stunning city and mountain views.
“These last 10 years went by in a wink,” Heinrich said.
The $150 million project was made possible thanks to some significant private donations, as well as a bond set up through the city. $35.5 million dollars of voter-approved Elevate Denver Bonds matched three-to-one were raised privately.
Lanny and Sharon Martin donated $25 million to the revitalization of the North Building, now renamed the “Martin Building.”
Designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti and Denver-based James Sudler Associates, the seven-story building first opened in 1971, and is one of the first-ever high-rise art museums.
Anna and John J. Sie donated money as well to make the brand new welcome center a reality, now named the “Sie Welcome Center.” The Sie Welcome Center is the newest facility on the campus. The circular glass building is said to be the open space to draw in the public, while the other facilities are more closed off from the outside viewer, symbolically protecting the hidden art gems within.
“The glass pavilion is the open arms to the community,” Heinrich said. “This building gives us so much more real estate to do very different programs.”
The repurposing of space throughout the Martin Building will allow the museum to host more events, especially those involving school groups. The Museum has long prioritized opening their facilities to the youth in order to give them appreciation and understanding of different art at a young age.
“In the museum all of the galleries are brand new,” Heinrich said.
The museum plans to host a free day on Oct. 24, where anyone from the public can experience the entirety of the museum for free. The grand re-opening of the complete campus coincides with the 50th anniversary of the now-Martin Building first welcoming guests.
“We miss the public enormously,” Heinrich said. “It is finally coming and we are very excited about this.”
Heinrich applauded everyone involved in making the museum a reality, saying the teamwork of architects Machado Silvetti and Fentress Architects made the campus one of Denver’s best art pieces yet.
“There are enormous possibilities for the audience, for Denver and for the community,” Heinrich said.