The University of Denver, founded in 1864, first offered instruction in the visual arts in 1865. DU consistently offered both art and art history classes for the three decades starting in the late 1880s, and resumed instruction in 1929. The University's earliest surviving art acquisitions date from this period: our plaster cast of the Venus de Milo (ca. 1893) and a late landscape by Albert Bierstadt, which was an 1890 gift of the artist. For more information on the Bierstadt painting (and to access our fully searchable online database) please click the link below.
There was no formal program for care and use of DU's art holdings until 2005, when the University hired its first curator for the University Art Collections. By the time founding curator Dan Jacobs announced his retirement in 2018, over 3600 art objects had been catalogued; those not on view on campus have been rehoused in a new, professionally managed off-campus facility, the Hampden Art Study Center (http://portfolio.du.edu/DUArtCollections/page/47268). Access for students, faculty and researchers is a major priority that led to the creation of a fully searchable online database, which we made available in 2010.
The art collections continue to grow primarily through gifts by alumni and friends of the University. Recent acquisitions include gifts of works by Andy Warhol, Jim Dine and Vito Acconci; a significant collection of 19th century English watercolors; a sizable archive of Soviet photojournalism; and a host of works by important regional artists, many of them affiliated with the University.
In 2016, Greenwood Village developer John Madden, Jr. announced a transformative gift of The Madden Collection, with artworks valued at $10 million. The 135 works include pieces by major 19th century Italian masters, as well as American masters Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Robert Rauschenberg and Viola Frey. In 2017 he committed another gift of $2.5 million in financial support for a dramatic expansion in collections-based programming, including scholarly catalogs, conservation projects and student-curated exhibitions at the Madden Museum of Art in Greenwood Village.
If you're interested in donating artwork, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your inquiries (please note that DU rarely acquires artworks through purchase). The curator of the art collections will reply on behalf of the University's art collections committee, which reviews potential acquisitions.