Despite the resplendence of the vaulting titanium walls of Daniel Libeskind's addition to the Denver Art Museum, it is time to turn attention to what goes inside.
Of special interest will be an October exhibition, "Artisan & Kings, Selected Treasures From the Louvre."
The show includes more than 125 paintings, sculptures and decorative arts collected by the Sun King, Louis XIV, and his two successors, as well as works seized after the French Revolution or later by Napoleon. It will be the first time the Louvre works have ever traveled to the western states, the Denver museum said.
"Our visitors will have the unprecedented opportunity to see works from the world's greatest collection of European art. The expansion of the museum enables us to host an exhibition of this magnitude, and we are delighted to launch our traveling exhibition program with a show of this caliber," said Lewis Sharpe, museum director.
"It is really a chance to take advantage of what the Frederic C. Hamilton building has to offer. We are using two out of our three exhibition spaces. We are in a great position to be attracting phenomenal exhibitions," said Melora McDermott-Lewis, director of education and master teacher for European and American art at the museum.
The Louvre's director, Henri Loyrette, says the museum believes it has an obligation to serve the entire art world. "It seems especially natural for us to turn to the United States, with whom we have very special, long-standing ties," he said.
McDermott-Lewis said Loyette and other world museum directors are interested in learning how Americans do things, both displaying art and raising money to pay for it.
For example, Denver will feature an area where artisans will demonstrate the metal, weaving and porcelain painting techniques used to create decorative art.
Works in the October through January exhibition include pieces by Anthony van Dyck, Jean-Honore Fragonard, Nicolas Poussin, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, Diego Velazquez and Gianlorenzo Bemini.
Denver has had remarkable success in recent decades in drawing quality exhibitions to the museum's original castlelike building, designed by late architect Gio Ponti. Next door is the Denver Public Library, renovated by Michael Graves, making the one-block area almost a museum of architecture.
A major exhibition of impressionist paintings from dozens of museums is planned for next February, followed by two more exhibitions from the Louvre. Many of the works in the October show are currently on display at the High Museum in Atlanta.