It was 29 years ago that Dianne Vanderlip came to the Denver Art Museum to start a contemporary art department. In the intervening decades some contemporary aged into modern, so Vanderlip's charge expanded to overseeing what is now the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. As early as last summer, it was an open secret that she would be leaving, but Vanderlip officially retired in January. During her reign, she was omnipotent in Denver's contemporary art scene, and even though she was criticized for not doing enough for local art, she purchased hundreds of pieces by Colorado artists for the museum's collection. Her replacement, Christoph Heinrich, will never have the power she wielded, because the Denver art world is so much bigger now -- in no small part because of what Vanderlip wrought.