The Denver Art Museum and the Kirkland Museum are merging

The merger comes after the Kirkland Museum struggled in recent years.
2 min. read
Bannock Street Façade of Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art.
Photo courtesy Wes Magyar

Updated at 3:09 p.m. on May 9, 2024

The Denver Art Museum and Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art announced plans Thursday to merge operations, which they say will enhance the city's cultural offerings.

The Kirkland Museum, which is located near the Denver Art Museum, will become the Kirkland Institute of Fine & Decorative Art at the Denver Art Museum.

Its collection of decorative arts with a focus on Colorado artists — as well as its collection of work made by its namesake, Vance Kirkland — will join the DAM's collection and programs.

The Kirkland Museum struggled in recent years after the pandemic kept it closed and a 2021 flood created by burst pipes damaged each of the building’s three floors, including its gallery space and storage area.

After extensive repairs, it reopened in August 2021.

“This merger represents a bold step forward in our collective mission to honor our shared heritage, foster creativity, and cultivate a deeper appreciation for the arts,” Kirkland Museum co-founder Merle Chambers said in a statement.

Maintaining Kirkland's character

The Denver Art Museum is committed to preserving the character and style of the Kirkland Museum.

"When you get into the building, you think somebody might have lived here and we are going to keep that character," said Christoph Heinrich, director of the Denver Art Museum.

Officials said the merger will optimize resources to extend the museum’s reach with visitors and in its educational programs.

The Kirkland Institute will maintain its vignette-style exhibits and preserve Kirkland's three-room studio building, while joining architecturally distinct buildings.

What's next?

The integration process will take 12-to-18 months, with officials hoping to complete their operational merger by September.

Beginning in June, all Kirkland Museum members will automatically become Denver Art Museum members.

"There was a little bit of a concern that all 30,000 members of the Denver Art Museum would run over to the Kirkland, which I think is a good problem to have," Heinrich said. "I would love to see lines in front of museums, but that'll take a little longer over the summer to implement the reciprocal structure of these memberships. But it'll be done by the end of the summer."

Colorado Public Radio's Ryan Warner contributed to this report.

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