You can now borrow local art from MCA Denver — the Octopus Initiative has begun

It’s really cool and really easy.

A rendering of the Octopus Initiative art library. (MCA Denver)

A rendering of the Octopus Initiative art library. (MCA Denver)

The name Octopus Initiative sort of invokes a shadowy governmental arm in an action movie, but the reality is much more charming and good-hearted than that.

It’s a program launched by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver that lets you enter a lottery to borrow work by a local artist for 10 months, for free.

Yeah, it’s really that easy. I just entered. It took two minutes.

Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Go to
  2. Create an account. They’ll just ask for your email and ZIP code.
  3. Once you’re back on the page displaying the art, click on the Availability drop down menu and select “Available” to see what’s, you know, available.
  4. Click on the heart icon next to pieces you’d like to be entered to borrow.
  5. Sit back and feel excited about your potential new art and your support of local artists.

The lottery is held on the 15th of each month. Newly available artwork will be shown on the website monthly on the 16th. If win, you’ll get an email from the Octopus Initiative notifying you, with instructions for pick-up.

Something to consider: In order to prevent damage, they require you to display it at least 20 feet away from any fire, heat or humidity source . (I mention that because it can become a challenge in apartments. Mine is 700 square feet, so meeting this requirement would be a challenge.)

The MCA also asks that you hang the artwork immediately and will provide the recommended hardware and tools.

There is no option to buy at the end of your 10-month loan, but if you like an artist’s work, you can get in touch and see if there’s something else of theirs you’d like to buy.

To learn more, check out the Octopus Initiative FAQ.


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