Art Without Borders: The Museum of Outdoor Arts

Residents, employees and visitors to City Center Englewood and the Greenwood Plaza business park are exposed to masterpieces of art every day at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, and most are pretty hard not to notice.

The Museum of Outdoor Arts

Enormous sculpted Marzocco Lions and Greek Temple Dogs fiercely guard street corners, three gossiping bronze children giggle on the sidewalk and a colorful windmill sways to-and-fro against the backdrop of tan- and red-brick buildings. Hundreds of people pass these pieces and have no idea that they are a part of a museum, but that’s the point.

Founded in 1981 by business-park developer John Madden, the Museum of Outdoor Arts aims to bring art into everyday life by incorporating traditional and contemporary public art pieces with public spaces. On warm Colorado days, art-lovers have the ability to indulge themselves in creativity without having to stand in lines at metro Denver’s larger indoor museums.

Madden put his idea into motion with the help of his daughter, Cynthia Madden Leitner, now the executive director and president of the MOA, who selects most of the new pieces in the permanent sculpture collection.

It was Madden’s love of art that has shaped the south metro area. The real estate developer has the belief that art should be a part of everyone’s daily life. It is what led him to found the MOA. He and his late wife, Marjorie Madden, selected the pieces to be put on display. Their daughter, Cynthia, is now a significant part of the museum. The MOA opened to the public in 1981. There was a showcase of 19 art acquisitions on display. Today the pieces number more than 150. Amazingly, 85 of these are located in publicly accessible outdoor areas in the community.

Through the years, regional, national, and international artists have been commissioned to create specific art pieces. Aside from the art collection, the MOA has also developed award-winning education programs. These offer broad support to regional artists.

Throughout the year, there are always ever-changing exhibits, art performances, and special events that highlight the commitment to visual and performing arts as an indispensable part of community life.

To spread his love of art, Madden, in 2016, donated 120 paintings, sculptures, prints, and other works of art to the University of Denver. The collection included pieces by Madden’s friend, Robert Rauschenberg, a renowned American artist whose mid-twentieth-century work fuses conventional and unconventional materials.

Rauschenberg is one of the most influential figures in American art history. Colorado recently celebrated his first solo exhibition in the state, “Rauschenberg: Reflections and Ruminations”, which presented an exhibit of intriguing retrospectives of his work.

Since Madden and Rauschenberg have had a personal friendship, this added to the personal warmth of the exhibition.

In the 26 years since the MOA opened to the public with 19 pieces, more than 100 sculptures have been chosen for or donated to the permanent collection and strategically placed throughout CityCenter Englewood and the Greenwood Plaza business park in Greenwood Village. There are also temporary rotating exhibits at both locations.

The sculpture garden of CityCenter Englewood aims at embracing the everyday activities of pedestrians and includes well-known pieces like Brooklyn Bridge by American pop artist Red Grooms, Windsong III by Robert Mangold, who also created the windmill near Union Station in downtown Denver, and the newly-acquired Bathroom People by Andy Miller. Sculptures can be found on the sidewalks, near the entrance to the Englewood Light Rail station and along walking paths.

Related Article: 13 Things To Do In Denver This Weekend

Windsong III, by Robert Mangold, is part of the CityCenter Englewood collection.

The pieces in Greenwood Plaza reflect the grand scale of architecture and landscaping, and include a collection of Alice in Wonderland sculptures, done by London-born artist Harry Marinsky, and numerous animal sculptures by Daniel Ostermiller and Giovanni Battista Antoniazzi.

Ironically, in 2000 the MOA opened an indoor gallery in the Englewood Civic Center to house offices and for special exhibitions. More than 15,000 visitors have come to the indoor gallery to see pieces not suitable for outdoor display.

Past exhibits have included Sculpture in Clay, which brings attention to the role of clay in architecture, home decorating and entertainment, and the psychedelic abstract works of Barbara Takenaga.

In the 26 years since the MOA opened to the public, more than 100 sculptures have been chosen for or donated to the permanent collection.

A visit to the museum during the winter months should include a trip to MOA’s 20-acre Ice+Snow exhibit next-door to Coors Amphitheatre. The interactive exhibit is created every year by Lonnie Hanzon and uses lights and architecture to tell a story. The Ice+Snow exhibit begins in November and continues through January.

If You Go

MOA’s CityCenter Englewood sculpture sites are bordered by Hampden Avenue, Santa Fe Drive, Dartmouth Avenue and Broadway. MOA’s Greenwood Plaza sculptures are bordered by Interstate 25, Arapahoe Road, Quebec Street and Belleview Avenue.

Porcellino, by Pietro Tacca, sits in CityCenter Englewood.

Stop by the indoor gallery and offices before setting out to pick up maps and information for self-guided walking tours.

Museum of Outdoor Arts (Indoor Gallery), 1000 Englewood Parkway #2-230, Englewood, (303) 806-0444

Gallery hours: Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ; Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and select Saturdays. Admission: Free

Rhiannon Nagy, a native of Iowa, is a senior journalism student at Metropolitan State College of Denver.

From the Editors: We spent a heap of time making sure this story was accurate when it was published, but of course, things can change. Please confirm the details before setting out in our great Centennial State.