Over a period of 13 years, Colorado Meetings + Events has hosted two “Best of” award celebrations at the Denver Art Museum (DAM). So it was fun to get back to the museum in January 2019 to hear about and see DAM’s $150 revitalization project underway and experience an exhibition that I’ve been hearing so much about. Organized and curated by DAM, “Dior: From Paris to the World” is the U.S. debut of the show and examines and visually brings to life more than 70 years of the house of Dior’s enduring legacy and its global influence.
North Building Project Expands Opportunities & Event Space
First, let’s look at the improvements underway as part of the North Building project, which includes renaming it the Martin Building in recognition of a $25 million gift from Lanny and Sharon Martin. The DAM’s North Building project was announced in December 2016 and focuses on stewardship of the building, connects the campus and the neighborhood, and celebrates museum learning and engagement. The goal for project completion is the building’s 50th anniversary in 2021.
Designed by world-renowned Italian architect Gio Ponti and Denver-based James Sudler Associates, the North Building opened to the public in 1971 and houses the majority of DAM’s permanent collection galleries. The seven-story structure is celebrated as one of the first-ever high-rise art museums and is the only completed building in North America designed by the Italian modernist.
As part of the project, construction of the new Anna and John J. Sie Welcome Center is well underway courtesy of the couple’s $12 million gift. The elliptical two-story facility, collaboratively conceived by Fentress Architects of Denver and Machado Silvetti of Boston, visually connects the campus that also includes the distinct Hamilton Building and pays homage to the original Ponti architecture while taking into account the unique landscape of Denver’s Golden Triangle Creative District.
At 50,000 square feet, the welcome center features visitor-centric amenities such as a restaurant, quick-service café, improved ticketing and orientation capabilities, as well as state-of-the-art event space, flexible program spaces, and below-grade space for art storage and the museum’s primary conservation lab.
Other key facets of the North Building project include expanding gallery spaces for growing collections for design and Western American art, completing Ponti’s original vision for visitor access to seventh-floor views, implementing exterior site improvements, and updating DAM’s environmental spaces and technology.
Tying into Blockbuster Exhibits
An outpouring of public interest in “Dior: From Paris to the World” prompted DAM to extend the closing date to March 17, 2019. More than 200 couture dresses, as well as accessories, costume jewelry, photographs, drawings, runway videos and other archival material are on view. The exhibition also profiles its founder, Christian Dior, and subsequent artistic directors and highlights North and South American patrons’ vital role in helping establish the house of Dior’s global presence. A special dated and timed ticket, which includes an audio tour of the exhibition as well as general museum admission, is required. Worth it? Absolutely.
There isn’t much time to add the exhibition to a group’s itinerary or play off the theme, but I ran across a great example on LinkedIn from Leslie Heins and Lisa Cook, owners and event architects of Affair with Flair in Denver. I reached out to Heins to find out more. While it wasn’t a corporate, nonprofit or association event, it could be a model for a stylish small gathering!
“This was a party that Lisa and I wanted to create to celebrate years of friendship with the special women in our lives. The party was held at a private home. We designed everything with David Squires [from DesignWorks] keeping the Dior theme in mind, and Occasions Catering did the food. After the delicious lunch, Arrow Bus Company took everyone to the Denver Art Museum to see the exhibit. It was a great day to celebrate fashion and friendships!” Heins shares. The good news is another great opportunity exists later this year and early next when DAM presents the most comprehensive U.S. exhibition of Monet paintings in more than two decades with “Claude Monet: The Truth of Nature”. Co-organized by DAM and Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany, Denver will be the sole U.S. venue for this presentation from Oct. 20, 2019 through Feb. 2, 2020. The exhibition will feature more than 100 paintings spanning Monet’s entire career and focus on the celebrated French impressionist artist’s enduring relationship with nature and his response to the varied and distinct places in which he worked.
Wherever your group meets in Colorado, make sure to see how you can tap into top-notch cultural facilities for event space and scheduled programming!