The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is an innovative forum for contemporary art that inspires and challenges all audiences, creating understanding and dialog about the art of our time.
In 1996, philanthropist Sue Cannon and a group of committed volunteers and artists responded to the community's desire for a contemporary art museum by founding MCA Denver. The Museum occupied a renovated fish market in Sakura Square in lower downtown Denver until members of the MCA Denver Board of Trustees, Mark Falcone and Ellen Bruss, generously donated a gift of land in Denver's Central Platte Valley to fulfill the organization's goal of building a permanent home for contemporary art in Denver.
In October 2007, MCA Denver opened a 27,000 square foot, environmentally sustainable, LEED-certified facility designed by acclaimed architect David Adjaye. In March 2009, Adam Lerner, former Director of The Laboratory of Art & Ideas at Belmar (The Lab) in Lakewood, Colorado was appointed Director of MCA Denver. The Board of Trustees agreed to merge the two institutions, incorporating some of The Lab's key Staff and Trustees into MCA Denver. The merger advanced the museum experience by integrating The Lab's unique programming and the solid curatorial platform of MCA Denver.
In July 2019, Adam Lerner concluded his decade-long tenure as Mark G. Falcone Director of MCA Denver. Under Adam's leadership, MCA Denver experienced unprecedented audience growth while raising the Museum's local and national profile.
In August 2019, MCA Denver announced Nora Burnett Abrams as the new Mark G. Falcone Director. Nora's career began at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she worked on the Sol LeWitt on the Roof and Robert Rauschenberg: Combines exhibitions. Since moving to Denver in 2010, she has organized over 30 exhibitions and authored or contributed to more than a dozen accompanying publications. In the past five years, MCA Denver has seen an increase in attendance by more than 200%, in large part due to Abrams's contributions as the Ellen Bruss Curator and Director of Planning.
Recent projects highlighted unusual or unknown episodes in artists' careers such as Basquiat Before Basquiat (2017), which traveled to three other venues, as well as the first survey of Senga Nengudi's R.S.V.P. sculptures (2014). She curated the first U.S. exhibition of Romanian painter Adrian Ghenie (2012) and an in-depth study of Ryan McGinley's earliest photographs and never-before-seen Polaroids (2017). In 2018, Abrams organized a retrospective of artist Tara Donovan, which traveled to the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago. Her most recent project, Francesca Woodman: Portrait of a Reputation, opened in September and will present a group of rare prints taken by Francesca Woodman that have never been shown.
MCA Denver is a vibrant organization delivering contemporary art to a broad audience that includes youth and teens, families, seniors, artists, and scholars, from across Colorado and beyond. MCA Denver has grown steadily over the years, experiencing a substantial increase in revenues, attendance, and membership. The enthusiasm of the local community for MCA Denver exhibitions, programs, and educational opportunities has fueled the institution's charge to gain international recognition as an innovative forum for contemporary art.
MCA Denver is a place for dynamic engagement between visitors and contemporary artists and their ideas. MCA Denver's exhibitions and programs:
o Connect visitors to art, artists, exhibitions, and ideas and stimulate audiences to think about cultural and intellectual issues more broadly;
o Encourage audiences to connect within a playful context and reflect on how the art on display relates to their own lives;
o Offer national and international exhibits by established artists alongside emerging and under-recognized artists;
o Present artists who are at the forefront of creative exploration, who offer insight and who investigate contemporary culture and thought;
o Reflect Denver's position as a geographic and cultural crossroad and as a point of convergence for bi-coastal trends.
MCA Denver is a key cultural and educational resource that contributes to the stability, diversity, and economic health of Denver and Colorado. MCA Denver has higher annual visitation than the majority of its peer institutions, hosting over 100,000 visitors each year. The original programming and consistent voice of MCA Denver assure that we will remain attractive to the local arts and culture patron and relevant to the international contemporary art field. MCA Denver is delivering a new caliber of internationally recognized exhibitions that bring both cultural relevance and artistic rigor to Denver.