Sometimes referred to as a “jewel box”, the newly constructed Kirkland Museum of Fine Art should be on everyone’s list to visit. Vance Kirkland, possibly one of Colorado’s most important 20th century artists, worked out of his 150 year old brick studio at 13th and Pearl Street for many years, until his death in 1981. His studio became a museum in 2003. When the museum outgrew that space, the studio was moved, in one piece, about a mile and joined to the new museum, which opened in March of this year. Visitors to the new site at 1201 Bannock Street wander through eight themed galleries before finding themselves in the original studio space.
The Kirkland Museum is considered “one of the most important design collections displayed in any North American Museum”, with over 4,000 items on display. Each gallery is arranged salon style, like you’d actually see in a home, so that in addition to art displayed on the wall, visitors are able to see furniture styles, glass and pottery, and other iconic objects and treasures (remember Princess phones?). The items are also displayed chronologically, so you move through time periods from the Arts and Crafts period through Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Modern and Postmodern.
One of the most interesting spaces is Kirkland’s original studio. His final, unfinished painting is lying on his worktable, underneath thick straps from which Kirkland would suspend himself horizontally so that he could reach the center of his paintings. Nearby are the baby food jars in which he mixed his paints, a collection of varying sized dowel sticks that he used in his dot paintings, and his colorful collection of radios.
The new Kirkland Museum is a fabulous addition to our city!