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Denver's Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art Is Worth a Visit

The museum features work by artist Vance Kirkland along with 1,500 other artists and designers.

Two iconic Dot Paintings by Vance Kirkland (1904–1981), namesake of the Kirkland Museum. Left: Seven Red Suns in Grey Space (Open Sun Series), 1971, oil on linen. Right: The Illusion of Floating Mysteries in Blue Space, 1975, oil paint and water on linen.

Wes Magyar

Just down the street from the sleek, futuristic Denver Art Museum, the squat Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art looks modest by comparison. But walk in, and you’ll find a vast, delightfully hodgepodge collection. Built as a monument to Colorado art, the institute shows works by the late Denver painter Vance Kirkland and other local artists, alongside furniture, fashion, and decor from around the world.

Vance Kirkland paintings with decorative furniture.

Wes Magyar

It’s easy to be seduced by the superstar art—the pitcher designed by Picasso, the bottle wrapped with a Lichtenstein print—but don’t miss Kirkland’s studio in back. Here, four straps hang from the ceiling. The painter would use the loops to suspend himself facedown above huge canvases to create his bright, cosmic-inspired works (pictured). Nearby you’ll see his books, paintbrushes, and inadvertently splattered chairs. The scene looks realistic because it is: When the museum relocated here last year, movers transported the entire studio in one piece.

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