Take a first look inside the Denver Art Museum’s new Martin Building

They still have a ways to go. The first bits of the building are set to open in June 2020.

Denver Art Museum's new campus (right) during construction, Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver Art Museum's new campus (right) during construction, Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

KEVIN-lighter

About 10 years ago, Denver Art Museum director Christoph Heinrich stood atop of the museum’s North Building roof patio and felt a pang of guilt. The castle-like space, designed by architect Gio Ponti, never fully achieved its intended vision. That rooftop, with all its excellent views and square footage, was never turned into the accessible space Ponti imagined.

“It’s really where the journey started,” Heinrich said.

So he and his colleagues set out on an ambitious capital campaign. A decade and $150 million later, they brought outsiders into the new North Building — now called the Martin Building — for the first time.

A peek inside the Denver Art Museum's new Martin Building during construction, Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Reporters get a peek inside the Denver Art Museum's new Martin Building. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Christoph Heinrich, the Denver Art Museum's Frederick and Jan Mayer Director, gives a tour of the Denver Art Museum's new campus during construction, Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Christoph Heinrich, the Denver Art Museum's Frederick and Jan Mayer Director, leads the tour. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

But this was not a grand opening. It was a sneak peek of what is to come, just a look at the first floor and a tease as to what museum visitors will see when the project is completed in 2021.

The building has undergone some changes since then, and its transformation concealed parts of Ponti’s original plans.

When workers began stripping drywall inside, for instance, they discovered lighting panels meant to illuminate the structure’s windows at night. Those lost elements will shine on again when the building is complete.

Another element, a courtyard on the Bannock Street side, also became an unused, virtually forgotten piece of the space. It, too will see new life.

The courtyard on the 14th Avenue side is also getting a re-boot, partially in response to “explosive growth” of school field trips that called for more room to park buses and corral kids.

The Martin Building’s tiled facades will also get a new vantage point, through skylights that allow a closer look at their artful design.

A view through rain-drizzled glass inside the Denver Art Museum's new campus, Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A view through a rain-drizzled skylight. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Christoph Heinrich, the Denver Art Museum's Frederick and Jan Mayer Director, gives a tour of the Denver Art Museum's new Martin Building during construction, Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Heinrich talks about the new skylights. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The first bits of the building are set to open in June 2020. This includes a 50,000-square-foot welcome center with an event space and two dining options, a school group reception area, new design and architecture galleries, the old Bonfils-Stanton Gallery (which was previously used for storage), the Northwest Coast and Alaska Native Gallery, and a state-of-the-art conservation lab.

There’s more to come, including that rooftop, which will be the very last piece unveiled. Its opening is set to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Ponti’s creation, which began construction in 1967 and opened in 1971.

A new spiral staircase leads upstairs into the Denver Art Museum's new Martin Building. Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A new spiral staircase in the new welcome area. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A new spiral staircase leads upstairs into the Denver Art Museum's new Martin Building. Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Peering up through the new spiral staircase. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Andrea Kalivas Fulton, the Denver Art Museum's deputy director and chief marketing officer, leads a tour of the Denver Art Museum's new campus during construction, Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Andrea Kalivas Fulton, the Denver Art Museum's deputy director and chief marketing officer, speaks to press. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Tiles designed by architect Gio Ponti on a pillar inside the Denver Art Museum's revamped Martin Building. Some of these are original, some are new – but they all look the same. Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Tiles designed by architect Gio Ponti on a pillar inside the Denver Art Museum's revamped Martin Building. Some of these are original, some are new – but they all look the same. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A view of the new courtyard and school tour reception area outside the Denver Art Museum's new Martin Building. Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A view of the new courtyard and school tour reception area. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Original wooden floors, partially sanded down, inside the Denver Art Museum's old North Building, now called the Martin Building. Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Original wooden floors, partially sanded down, inside the Denver Art Museum's old North Building, now called the Martin Building. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Inside the Denver Art Museum's new Martin Building during construction, Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Workers pass through a hallway under construction. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Inside the Denver Art Museum's new Martin Building during construction, Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A long hallway inside the new Martin Building. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A media tour of the Denver Art Museum's new Martin Building, during construction, Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

This old space will have new use as a gallery. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A previously unused courtyard outside the Denver Art Museum's rennovated Martin Building will see new purpose when it reopens, Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A previously unused courtyard destined for new life. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A peek upstairs into the Denver Art Museum's new Martin Building, Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A peek upstairs into the Denver Art Museum's new Martin Building. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A view through rain-drizzled glass inside the Denver Art Museum's new campus, Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A view through a rain-drizzled skylight. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Denver Public Library is reflected in the concave windows of the Denver Art Museum's new Marin Building. Aug. 8, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Denver Public Library is reflected in the concave windows of the Denver Art Museum's new Marin Building. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Denver Art Museum's north building is under construction, Dec. 5, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The building has come a long way since Dec. 5, 2018, but there's still a long way to go. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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