JIAO Tianlong 焦天龍
Denver Art Museum 丹佛藝術博物館

A Centennial Journey: collecting and promoting Chinese art at the Denver Art Museum

The history of a museum's collection reflects the museum's vision and mission. Collecting and promoting Chinese arts in the American art museums manifest the museum's understanding of the role of Chinese arts in their strategic plan. Since 1915, Denver Art Museum has been collecting and promoting Chinese arts. This centennial journey represents a unique perspective of how a museum in the American West representing Chinese arts. Like many American museums with Chinese art collections, Denver Art Museum has largely relied on private donations in building its collections. However, unlike some museums with big gifts from one or few collectors, the Chinese art collections at Denver Art Museum were primarily accumulated through small or medium gifts over the past century. Almost 400 donors from the US, Asia, Europe and South America have helped build the collections. The first of these was Walter C. Mead (1866-1951), who pledged his collection of Chinese and Japanese art 'to the people of Denver' in 1915, forming the nucleus of Asian arts at Denver up to the early 1940s. With the generous supports of these donors and the museum's own purchase, Denver Art Museum's Chinese art collections rank today among the finest in North America, representing 5,000 years of art history of China.

With the expansion of its Chinese art collections over the past century, Denver Art Museum embarked on ambitious exhibitions and programmes in featuring and presenting Chinese arts and cultures to the residents of Denver and beyond. It has to date developed or hosted more than ninety special exhibitions-including many collaborations with museums in Asia, Europe and other parts of the US-along with educational programmes, lecture series and academic symposia.