- Project Name
- Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
- Olson Kundig
- Project Types
- 38,500 sq. feet
- Year Completed
- Shared by
- Project Status
FROM THE ARCHITECTS:
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art is a new two-story museum in the heart of Denver’s museum district, the Golden Triangle. Located across the street from the Denver Art Museum and the Clyfford Still Museum, this new 38,500-square-foot museum lends a bold presence to the neighborhood, allowing Kirkland Museum to take its place among the most important cultural institutions of Denver. At the same time, it stays true to the intimate atmosphere for which Kirkland Museum is known, offering visitors an enhanced salon-like experience. Designed by architect Jim Olson, the new building highlights both the artistry and craft of Kirkland Museum’s internationally renowned decorative art collection and its singular collection of art by Colorado artists.
The key element of Olson’s design for the new Kirkland Museum is a rich and vibrant façade that complements the lively mix of art and craft in the collection. Luminous terracotta bars in an array of yellow hues, punctuated with rectangular glass “baguettes” backed in gold, will enliven the building’s public face, sparkling in the bright Colorado sunlight, recalling the energy of a Vance Kirkland painting. Olson notes that, while the elevations of the building are calm and the layout is straightforward and easy to navigate, the materials cladding the exterior are full of energy. Objects from the museum’s collection will be displayed in a series of vitrines mounted onto the exterior of the building, extending the galleries to the neighboring sidewalks and streets. Hand-crafted reddish glass “fins” delineating the museum entrance will further enliven the façade. In this way, the building itself becomes a sparkling jewel box that expresses the vibrant examples of artistry and design housed within.
Central to the new plan for the museum was the relocation of the existing Vance Kirkland Studio, which is the oldest commercial art building in Denver, constructed in 1911. On November 6, 2016, the 1,384- square-foot building was detached from the existing museum, moved eight blocks west and placed on the north side of the new building in the same orientation as it originally sat on Pearl Street. Moving this 150-ton building was a complex undertaking that required a patchwork of steel beams measuring up to 14 feet long to be positioned under the building for support as it was slowly wheeled 1.1 miles to its new location.
Kirkland Museum’s collection of over 30,000 works includes the nation’s largest repository of Colorado art, with more than 7,000 works by over 700 Colorado artists; the International Decorative Art Collection, which includes over 20,000 objects and is considered one of the most important design collections in North America; and the Vance Kirkland Collection, which encompasses approximately 550 paintings and 600 drawings and prints. The new museum has 65% more gallery space than the previous building, allowing a total of 5,500 to 6,000 works to be on view in thirteen galleries.