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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Visiting the Kirkland Museum

After living in Denver for over nine years I was pretty sure that I knew of most of the interesting spots around town, particularly the ones of a touristy nature. Sure, I may not necessarily be in on the cool and trendy bars, particularly since that’s not my cup of tea, but I figured I knew of all the major museums and so forth. Well, a few months ago a friend of mine started interning at the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art and I was instantly corrected.
In all this time I had never once heard of the Kirkland. It was a totally and completely foreign idea for me, and one that I was eager to explore. So, having some free time in what’s my work weekend, I decided to head towards downtown Denver to see what I could find. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot as it was midweek, but I was still interested in taking the tour that’s offered at 130pm from Wednesday through Saturday.

I arrived at the museum just in time for the tour, but had to take a moment to figure out how to get in. The entrance wasn’t anything like I had expected, even from the outside, as I assumed I’d be able to walk up and go right on in. Well, not so much. There’s a buzzer on the door that I had to ring before admission. I was taken aback by this at first, raising an eyebrow to it, but the reason instantly struck me when I went in: this was once someone’s home and studio that’s now transformed in to a museum. It also helps as there’s not always someone at the front desk in the gift shop, but it definitely seemed like a place of hustle and bustle while I was there.
The tour turned out to be a group of seven, surprisingly as I figured I’d be the only one there in the middle of the week. But no, people even drove down from Ft. Collins just to spend a few hours exploring the collection. This surprised me a bit, but I was happy to be along with a group of people who obviously knew what they were talking about. I felt a bit out of place in my tshirt and jeans in this crowd of afficionados, but the staff made me feel more than welcome to be there.

As the guide showed us through the Kirkland and explained the art in the collection, much of which was done by Vance Kirkland, I realized that it wasn’t really my type of stuff. Much of it is decorative art, as the name to the museum says, which makes me raise an eyebrow. From a point of view I can see how a table or a chair can be considered art, but as it’s more of a utilitarian item I struggle with it a bit. But, there are plenty of paintings and sculptures around too that definitely make up for what I would tend to just consider as bizarre furniture.
The highlight of the tour, in my opinion, was seeing where Kirkland once painted. His studio has been set up to appear as though he’s finishing a project, hanging from the straps above a painting he’s putting some final dots in. It was quite fascinating and intersting to see what essentially was the man’s studio and study until recently.
The other clutter, great big cabinets full of various vases and the like, even silverware and plates, rather bothered me as it seemed like it was too much; the whole place was laid out and poorly displayed. I worked around this though, despite feeling as though I was still in someone’s house based on the set up, and enjoyed what I saw elsewhere. As the display goes though, this can be difficult to do as so much is packed in as it seems like it’s just an antique shop.
Generally I enjoyed my time at the Kirkland Museum. Vance’s work was particularly impressive, but I was disappointed to see much of it in the vaults in the basement. I know they recently expanded the museum, but another expansion may be necessary, or just a reorganization of the display, in order to more prominantly feature his work. I would personally like to see a movement from the decorative art towards what he’s done, but accept it for what it is and will happily return to explore more of the interesting collection.

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  1. Spending a Free Night at Denver Museums | Jason's Travels - November 1, 2012

    […] West Museum, The CELL, the Children’s Museum of Denver, The Denver Firefighter Museum, the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art (photo at top), and much, much more throughout the metro area. Check out the Denver Arts Week […]

  2. Experiencing Denver Arts Week | Jason's Travels - November 5, 2012

    […] From there, our excitement for the night in overdrive, we decided to walk around the corner to the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Arts. I don’t recall being overly impressed by my previous visit, but felt compelled to return since […]

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