The Denver Art Museum (DAM) announced today that it will unveil its new design galleries and hands-on design studio on June 6, 2020, as a part of the phased reopening of the newly renovated Gio Ponti-designed Martin Building. OMA has designed nearly 10,000 square-feet of new and renovated space within the building’s original footprint. The project is part of an overall campus reunification and building renovation project led by Machado Silvetti and Fentress Architects.
By horizontally bisecting the museum’s original Stanton Gallery on level 1, OMA has designed brand new space without expanding the building’s footprint. The result are three distinct rooms—the Joanne Posner-Mayer Mezzanine Gallery, the Ellen Bruss Design Studio and the Amanda J. Precourt Design Galleries—that will connect the DAM’s architecture and design collection while simultaneously providing dynamic spaces for visitors to engage with design materials, create artwork and respond directly to the objects and ideas presented.
“We are honored to collaborate once again with the Denver Art Museum. It is exciting to design a new space within the historic Gio Ponti building and draw from his extensive, multi-faceted design philosophy,” said Shohei Shigematsu, OMA Partner. “The role of design in society is always changing and ever diversifying. Galleries need to react to these changes, beyond posing new ways of seeing. The three new spaces are more than just galleries for consuming design. They each have their own spatial and programmatic identities but work collectively as a platform for discourse around the boundless contexts of design.”
Rotated to the original grid of Denver, the Gio Ponti’s Martin building is a product of an urban condition. The three new rooms amplify Ponti’s intention—distinct yet interconnected, the interactive Design Studio and Design piazza-like Design Galleries simulate urban activity within the museum. The rooms also integrate subtle references to Ponti—floating abstract planes within the Mezzanine Gallery; compositional techniques reminiscent of Ponti’s furniture design within the Design Studio; and in the Design Gallery, the use of a curved entry echoing those within the Martin Building and a rotation of platforms and walls to the city grid.
The Design Gallery follows a logic of spatial typologies. An open, central “piazza” is surrounded by perimeter rooms organized in an alternating sequence of rooms and islands. Within the rooms the viewer is surrounded by the displayed objects. Islands and piers place objects centrally, allowing views from multiple vantage points. A modular and flexible catalog of platforms facilitate the inherent diversity of types, sizes and medium of design objects on display. The gallery is capable of being efficiently rotated between different exhibitions through reaggregations of platforms, allowing a permanent exhibition space to be transformed at will.
The Design Studio responds to new ways of absorbing information and contextualizes artworks on view through hands-on experiences. A series of hinged walls can be deployed into fluid configurations for a range of programs such as library, lounge, workshops, presentations and other community oriented activities.
“Our teams are hard at work installing galleries and interactive, creative spaces to welcome our community back to their Denver Art Museum this summer,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the DAM. “June 2020 will be the first opportunity for our visitors to experience the architecture and design collection in a new, expansive space that can offer a deeper look into design-based creativity and process.”
“Design is unique for its accessibility and connection to our daily lives,” said Darrin Alfred, curator of architecture and design at the DAM. “We are thrilled to give prominence to thought-provoking and inspiring objects—drawn primarily from the DAM’s architecture and design collection—in this newly constructed space, providing our visitors an engaging setting for a deeper appreciation and understanding of design and the world around us.”
Comprising nearly 19,000 works dating from the sixteenth century to the present day, the DAM’s architecture and design collection encompasses one of the most preeminent modern and contemporary design collections of any comprehensive museum in the US, featuring a broad range of design practices, including architecture, furniture and industrial and graphic design.
The inaugural installation will feature more than 400 objects spanning two exhibitions — By Design: Stories and Ideas Behind Objects and Gio Ponti: Designer of a Thousand Talents. OMA and Shohei Shigematsu have designed both exhibitions, as well as the Amanda J. Precourt Design Galleries and the Ellen Bruss Design Studio. The project is a continuation of OMA’s collaboration with DAM, following the exhibition design for Dior: From Paris to the World, presented in winter 2018.