DU Field Notes: Museums With Virtual Reach
In this series, the DU Newsroom introduces readers to the world outside campus by exploring Denver and the near beyond.
With the coronavirus pandemic in full swing, culture vultures, history buffs and science fiends have had to rely on the virtual world for a museum fix. Some institutions, admittedly, have started to reopen, but it’s often difficult to secure tickets. Fortunately, many continue to offer online programming that’s the next best thing to being there.
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
Named for the famous abstract expressionist and the founder of the University of Denver’s School of Art and Art History, the Kirkland Museum offers a vast trove of paintings, sculpture, furniture, ceramics and design treasures. In “100 More. Because Less Is a Bore,” the museum’s curatorial staff showcases 100 objects from the roughly 4,400 works on display at the Kirkland’s premises in Denver’s Golden Triangle museum district. Just click on the image of the object that captivates you — say a Bauhaus telefon — and you’ll be directed to a page chock full of details. That Bauhaus phone? You’ll be interested to learn that it’s the handiwork of two different designers — one who envisioned the instrument’s housing and one who took on its headset.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
For more than a century, Denverites have relied on this vaunted institution for help demystifying science, exploring the celestial beyond and understanding nature. The museum’s education staff invites the public to occasional Facebook Live lunches where “educator performers” answer questions both silly and serious. Wondering what it’s like to sneeze in space? And why do astronauts work so hard not to burp once they’ve left terra firma? Just as pressing, what’s the science — dubious or vetted — behind miracle cures and snake oils?
Still curious? That’s the point.
Denver Art Museum (DAM)
It’s impossible to replicate a face-to-face encounter with a masterpiece, but the Denver Art Museum aims to get you up close and personal with the next best thing: digital images you can magnify and scrutinize without a security guard reminding you to keep your distance.
The museum’s online collection includes everything from 17th century portraits and Hopi blankets to Islamic tiles and concert posters from the 1960s. Meanwhile, visitors who want to experience complete shows, rather than individual artworks, can hop on a video tour. Among the favorites: an eye-popping romp through “Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze.” One of Denver’s own, Casteel has been deemed “a rising art star” by critics and curators alike.
When newcomers and old-timers want to know why things are the way they are in the Centennial State, they often turn to History Colorado.
The institution’s galleries currently offer visitors “Forty Years on the ’Fax,” a nostalgic ride down Denver’s celebrated Colfax Avenue; “Beer Here,” a look at brewing’s past, present and future; and an introduction to “Women Behaving Badly.”
From home, you can explore a range of topics through podcasts created especially for history lovers. COauthored features community-recorded oral histories from around Colorado, while Lost Highways offers “dispatches from the shadows of the Rocky Mountains.”
Clyfford Still Museum
He’s the modern master with the most mysterious and sexy story in artdom. And the museum dedicated to showcasing his revolutionary work has become a destination for fans and admirers worldwide.
The institution’s online collection allows visitors to follow his career from humble beginnings to extravagant accomplishments. Start with his enigmatic self-portrat, move on to his Depression-era paintings of farm hands and mill workers, and conclude with his dazzling, not to mention puzzling, abstractions.
If you want to get to know the artist even better, stop by the online archives to sift through family photos and thumb through his scorching correspondence. In an “open letter to an art critic,” you’ll see Still at his most prickly, chastising his recipient for “shameless hypocrisy wrapped in saccharine words of dedication.”