The Denver Art Museum added more than 700 works of art to their collections in 2023

Some of the Denver Art Museum’s newly acquired art.

Courtesy: Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum acquired more than 700 artworks across its ten curatorial departments in 2023.

Ranging from pottery and watercolor to weavings, sculptures and photographs, the reported acquisitions included both purchases and gifts that were received between Oct. 1, 2022, and Sept. 30, 2023.

“Throughout the curatorial departments of the DAM, the varied artworks added to the collection in the past year reinforce the museum’s mission to further enlarge the range of voices represented and continues to extend the scope of stories the DAM can tell in its galleries,” the museum wrote in a news release.

Here are five takeaways from the list of acquisitions.

1. Three departments had the largest number of acquisitions

The Photography department had 244 acquisitions including works by 44 women and 22 photographers of color. 

The Native Arts department added 156 works that included 117 works of pottery, weavings and watercolors from the late 1800s to the 1990s by Indigenous artists gifted by the estate of Benjamin F. and Sarah A. Crane. The department also encompasses the collections of Arts of Africa, Arts of Oceania and Indigenous Arts of North America. 

The Architecture and Design department added 130 objects by 42 artists and designers, half of whom are women and artists of color. 

2. First global acquisitions by two designers of West African and Korean descent 

Works by Burkinabè designer and visual artist Hamed Ouattara and Korean multi-disciplinary designer Minjae Kim were part of the Architecture and Design department’s additions. 

Ouattara, based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and born in 1971, is best known for creating colorful and weathered furniture from oil drums.

Hammered and shaped by hand, Ouattara’s “Indigola Cabinet” references indigo, a natural dye valued for generations in West Africa and once a high-status commodity in Europe, “which was used as currency in the British colonies, including as payment for enslaved Africans.” 

“Garb 4” by Minjae Kim (left) and “I CAN’T TAKE MY EYES OFF OF YOU” by Jeffrey Gibson.
Courtesy: Denver Art Museum

Kim’s “Garb 4” was commissioned by multiple curatorial departments and was meticulously crafted from fiberglass and resin. It resembles a hanbok, the iconic attire of Korea. 

Both of these pieces were the respective artists first museum acquisition of their careers. 

3. A Colorado connection: Photographer Robert Adams 

Photographer Robert Adams and his wife, Kerstin, gifted the DAM with 63 photographs, a majority of which depict the Pawnee National Grassland in northeastern Colorado after they moved to Longmont in 1971. Adams’ work is known to document the extent and the limits of damage done to the American West.

4. Royal additions to the Arts of Africa galleries 

An addition to the Arts of Africa galleries that reopened last year, the department was offered a collection of historic Kuba textiles and elaborate embroidered raffia cloth from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These include 19 ceremonial women’s skirts and 42 prestige panels, considered prized luxury goods that were offered to the king in annual tribute. 

Between the 1970s and the early 2000s, Kuba ruler Nyimi Kwete Mbokashanga began selling objects from his royal collection. This gift of Kuba textiles traces back to this royal lineage. 

5. New works by famous impressionists Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas

The European and American Art Before 1900 department added five works to their collection, four of which were gifts. 

The acquisitions included a pastel drawing by Mary Cassatt titled, “Young Woman with a Straw Hat.” Cassatt is known to be the only American artist to be exhibited among the famous French Impressionists of the 19th century. She was known for her depictions of women and children in intimate moments of care, affection and solitude

Edgar Degas’ bronze sculpture titled “Woman Arranging her Hair” was also part of the acquisitions. The revered French Impressionist was famous for pastel drawings and oil paintings that often depicted the subject of dance. 

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