Art News

Kirkland Museum Finally Reopening After a Broken Pipe Shut It Down

The Kirkland Museum is back!
The Kirkland Museum is back! Wes Magyar
After months of an unanticipated closure, the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art will finally reopen to the public on Friday, August 27.

The museum, which after COVID-19 closures had just reopened in early 2021 with a promising show celebrating the new year, was forced to shutter again on February 15.

When the polar vortex hit Denver this winter, freezing temperatures caused a pipe valve in the building to burst, and water wreaked havoc on all three floors. Staff responded quickly, moving thousands of artworks out of harm's way. The Kirkland's collection includes more than 30,000 pieces; just a few were permanently damaged. Most that were affected have been restored and will be back on display.

Although the structural damage was limited to the museum's new building — and did not affect Vance Kirkland’s historic studio, which houses an art school — the new building required major repairs, including the replacement of drywall.


But now, finally, the repairs are wrapped. “The Museum is back!” notes associate director Renée Albiston, in an announcement of the reopening date.

The first exhibit will be Truth, Beauty and Power: Christopher Dresser and the Aesthetic Movement, a look at how the British designer influenced the little-explored movement that ran from 1865 to 1900. Many objects from the museum's massive collection will be on display for the first time, including a fascinating five-legged chair.

“In conjunction with our exhibition opening with the Museum on August 27, we are delighted to announce that per Harry Lyons and Dorman Museum, we believe this chair was designed by Christopher Dresser,” says Albiston. “The chair was always intriguing, lovely and extraordinarily good design, and is only enhanced by this connection to one of the central designers of the era.”

The show runs through January 2 and is included with general admission. 

Also on display when the museum reopens will be Vance Kirkland's signature 1971 painting, "Four Suns in Space."

Concludes Albiston: “We can’t wait to welcome visitors again to immerse themselves in our beautiful collection and galleries.”

Starting August 27, the Kirkland will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets are available at the Kirkland Museum website.
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris