I visited the new Hamilton wing of the Denver Art Museum last Thursday. The official opening is this weekend, but members received a preview. Great idea! Amazingly, it wasn’t too crowded, so we were able to enjoy viewing the art and incredible architecture by Daniel Libeskind.
As an art patron, I enjoyed the architecture enormously. It’s terribly complex, although slightly dizzying (all of those angles!). I think we’re so accustomed to our right angles that anything else throws us off course. One of the things I remember Daniel Libeskind saying in one his his lectures was that he didn’t have anything against 90-degree angles, but there were 359 other angles to explore. How true!
As a former museum professional, I’m not 100% convinced. I thought some of the art looked claustrophobic and needed more space.
Think about this: How do you install artwork on a “wall” that is at an angle of about 160 degrees? You build another wall on top of it that juts up to a 90-degree angle. There’s all kinds of this stuff going on inside the building. You really can’t believe or imagine it until you see it!
The coolest parts for me were installations intended for the space. The first is in what they call the “Canyon” (the great central space that opens from the ground to the 4th floor. “ENGI,” A digital LED installation by Tatsuo Miyajima dots all four floors and unites the experience of the space.
The other very cool use of space is in the contemporary galleries. A video installation by Jennifer Steinkamp ("Rock Formation") of falling/floating fabric is projected onto one of the strangely-angled walls. Anyway, it’s a great use of this irregular wall. Mesmerizing. The woman next to me said she came two nights earlier (to one of the VIP parties), sat in a chair in front of the video and sipped champagne. I sure can’t think of a better way to spend an evening.