I was lucky enough to visit the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art for the first time last weekend and definitely recommend. It’s worth at least one visit, if not more. I knew very little about this museum going in, except that it featured furniture. This is the museum that I had intended on visiting but then the pandemic hit and the museum closed its doors literally the week of my planned visit. They recently opened their doors again and thanks to them partnering with the Smithsonian, I got in for free. If you missed the free day, don’t fret, tickets are only $10 a person which is a great deal for Denver.
I enjoyed this museum, although the sheer amount of items filling the many rooms, shelves, and display cases did make me feel overwhelmed at times. I felt like I would never be able to see and appreciate every item. And that’s true. But it’s also ok because it means this museum is one I would return to another time so I could discover more plates that strike my fancy. The different rooms are labeled by both the fine art style and the decorative art style for those of you that know the different styles. For example the fine art style (paintings) of one room would say Impressionist and the decorative art style (the furniture and crafted pieces like glassware and vases) would say art deco. I can’t pretend to know what each style means but that didn’t take away from my ability to appreciate the exhibits.
If you’re at all interested in design or the history of design, this museum is a must visit. There are pieces from the late 1800s to today. There are chairs that you would be surprised were made in the 1920s because of how un-1920s they look. There are chairs that look extremely uncomfortable. There are buffets and cabinets and side tables and coffee tables. And then there are lots of display cases that house plates, teacups, teapots, vases, and all assortment of other knick knacks. A lot of them are so well designed and a lot of them are oddly and creatively designed that you’ll find something that catches your eye in every place you look.
One of the museum’s main focuses is artist Vance Kirkland. When the museum moved physical locations a few years back, they also moved his studio and art school with it so within the building is another building. It’s awesome. You get to see the brick walls and even part of the roof. You get to see the bathroom that students used and the studio that Kirkland used to create his really cool art. He hung from the ceiling so that he could paint his canvas from above. That’s badass. I also learned that he would sign many of his creations in multiple places so that people could hang his art in multiple directions. He gave them choices as he didn’t want to be the one that dictated what was up and what was down. I believe I read that he said something about how in space there is no up and down. I love that – of allowing the person who purchases the art to decide how she wants to hang it up.
The museum, at first, appears a bit small, but as you wind your way around and stop to see all the art and furniture and pieces that seize ahold of your artist heart, you can easily spend two hours here. You know what’s also awesome about this place? They sell Juni Margrie ceramics, the woman I purchased my flower vase from a couple of weeks ago. As soon as I saw her work in their gift shop I knew this place was a cool place. Check it out when you get a chance.
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