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.
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.
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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.
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.