As part of the newly reopened Denver Art Museum renovation project, OMA has transformed the design galleries of the iconic Martin Building in order to better display, exhibit, and communicate the museum’s robust holdings in architecture and design.
The remade space features two new galleries and an educational studio named for designer and art collector Ellen Bruss.
OMA’s Shohei Shigematsu described the opportunity to work within Ponti’s seminal work as “an exciting exercise,” offering his opinion that “Much like his design philosophy, the role of design seems to grow and diversify exponentially. A direct consequence of design ubiquity is accessibility and literacy, and we wanted the galleries to react to these changes.”
“The three spaces pose new ways of seeing as well as interacting with objects and materials,” he continued. “They present different spatial and programmatic identities but work collectively as a platform for shifting the discourse beyond mere consumption of design, by incorporating movement, odd perspectives, and intimacy.”
By dissecting the existing space on the museum’s Level 1 Stanton Gallery, Shigematsu and his team were able to successfully create 11,500 square feet of new space across two levels in the form of dual Mezzanine and Design galleries complemented by the Bruss studio.
The 7,750-square-foot Design Gallery is anchored by an open-air central piazza surrounded by an alternating sequence of exhibition spaces with room for a diverse range of objects that can easily be adapted to the display needs of its curators. Above it, the 1,900-square-foot Mezzanine Gallery serves as an homage to the shifting volumes of Ponti. Its display catalog offers visitors “layers of perspective.” The studio then works as a bookend to the galleries and features a fluid range of programs thanks to a series of hinged walls that employ the Italian designer’s compositional techniques to better create an interactive hands-on experience.
“Working with the DAM team on the architecture and design galleries and studio was a particularly meaningful way for us to continue our collaboration with the museum,” OMA associate Christy Cheng said in a statement. “Architectural and design objects are ones that people encounter every day, and we loved working with DAM to consider how to best tell the stories behind those objects so that the visitor understands design as a process.”
Two permanent exhibitions will inaugurate the new spaces focusing on the work of Ponti as well as reexamining DAM’s own collection. Attendance is still very limited due to COVID-19 precautions. More information about visiting the museum can be found here.