Countdown to the Kirkland Museum Opening

Bannock Street elevation of the new Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.EXPAND
Bannock Street elevation of the new Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.
Wes Magyar
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

The new Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art will officially debut on Saturday, March 10. But it's already a Mile High landmark, one of the most significant works of architecture constructed in Denver so far this century.

A little more than a decade after the original Kirkland Museum opened on Capitol Hill, founder Hugh Grant decided that the facility was too small and its location too far from the cluster of museums just south of the Civic Center. So a few years ago, land was purchased on Bannock Street and West Twelfth Avenue, just a half-block from the Denver Art Museum’s Hamilton Building and across Bannock from the Clyfford Still Museum, and the museum started building.

The new Kirkland Museum is much larger than the old one and sparkles like a jewel. The main pavilion is clad in ceramic and glass baguettes done in a range of yellow and gold shades, lending the entire composition a sense of luxuriousness. That visual richness is enhanced by the abstract sculptures on the Bannock Street lawn, tinted glass fins that mark the main entry near the intersection with West 12th Avenue, and the essentially symmetrical composition of the building’s volumes. The architect is Olson Kundig from Seattle, with Jim Olson serving as the designer and Kirsten Murray as the project manager. In addition to the new building, the museum includes the historic Vance Kirkland Studio building, which was moved from its old location on Pearl Street to a site immediately north of the new structure.

View from the lobby of the promenade at the new Kirkland Museum.EXPAND
View from the lobby of the promenade at the new Kirkland Museum.
Wes Magyar

I’ve known Grant for many years, and last week he gave me a sneak peek at the new place. The Kirkland specializes in three categories of material: work by Kirkland, arguably Colorado's greatest twentieth-century artist; work by other Colorado artists; and international design, decoration and craft. The old location was insanely crowded with jam-packed showcases, salon-style walls of paintings, and furniture and sculptures filling seemingly every square inch of floor space. With all the additional room in the new Kirkland, it’s much less cramped than before, with the objects and artworks spread all through the space. But don’t get me wrong: It’s still an overloaded sensory experience, and one that won't disappoint.

The cost of the project was taken on by the Merle Chambers Fund. Merle Chambers, who was formerly married to Grant, has been instrumental in the founding and growth of the Kirkland Museum, and she was the one who came up with the idea of moving Kirkland’s old studio to the new place. Chambers has remained involved and serves on the Kirkland’s board.

The museum will open to the public with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 10, but various invitation-only previews start with a sold-out gala on March 1, followed by a special event for artists in the Kirkland’s collection on March 2. On March 4, museum members will be allowed in. Find out more by calling 303-832-8576 or visiting kirklandmuseum.org.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.