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MUSEUM BRINGS DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE TO LIFE

"DESIGN IS THE MOST democratic of the arts because it is the most understandable, accessible and affordable," says Craig Miller, curator of the department of architecture, design and graphics at the Denver Art Museum. Miller, former associate curator of 20th century art at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, believes everyone can appreciate and own a beautifully designed piece of furniture. "The general public is quickly developing a very keen interest in design," he says.

When Miller arrived in Denver in 1990, the museum made a strong commitment to systematically collect modern design and architecture (post 1750) and contemporary applied arts (post 1960). The department's five primary collecting areas are: decorative design, functional craft, industrial design, graphics and architecture.The current installations in the new galleries - they run through January 28, 1996 - spotlight approximately 200 objects, including some of the most significant examples of furniture, ceramics, product design, metalwork and glass produced during the past 250 years.

The furniture gallery shows post-modernist design in a historical context dating back to 1750. Major stylistic movements from neoclassicism to postmodernism are represented, showcasing major cabinetmakers and designers such as Joseph Meeks & Sons, Herter Brothers, Henry Van de Velde, Sue et Mare and Robert Venturi. Complementing the furniture installation is a gallery featuring glass, ceramics, metalwork and product design that show the parallel stylistic developments in these media.

The paper gallery will alternate every four months with installations featuring the architecture and graphics collection. The current show consists of architectural photographs by Elizabeth Gill Lui from her new series featuring contemporary art museums in Europe and the United States. (Denver is one of the first design departments to include architectural photography as part of its collection.) Another gallery is dedicated to Italian design (for the next five years). The current installation covers postmodernist design after 1978.

The fifth gallery highlights regional artists and recent acquisitions. The present installation features the work of internationally renowned ceramist Betty Woodman, a Colorado native.

Lewis Sharp, director of the Denver Art Museum, is excited with the new path the museum has paved in collecting architecture, design and graphics. He believes the installation "reflects both the museum's commitment to collecting American and European decorative arts as well as its new focus of exploring design and architecture as a major artistic field from the Renaissance to present day."

In his 12 years at the Met, Miller built one of the nation's premiere design and architecture collections. Since his arrival in the West, Miller's unprecedented collections program has brought more than 750 works into the museum. He predicts "visitors will be dazzled by the quality and richness of the collection and by the level of beauty it has been brought to through care and restoration."

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Denver Art Museum

14th Ave. & Bannock St.

303-640-2793

Gallery hours:

Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Sunday, 12-5 p.m.