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Denver Art Museum

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The bronze spider that towers outside the Frederic C. Hamilton Building seems to say something significant about the Denver Art Museum. Namely, that although it is unquestionably a grown-up’s museum with serious art at every turn, it’s also one that strongly attempts to engage young imaginations. Curators have integrated activities for children in each exhibit, banishing any trace of stuffiness. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
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The bold design of the Hamilton building, its sharp angles a reference to the profile of the nearby Rocky Mountains, is by noted architect Daniel Libeskind. The Hamilton wing, which opened in the fall, is on pace to attract 750,000 visits in its first year, and the museum is setting attendance records. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
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The new wing’s titanium wrap catches the last rays from a setting Colorado sun. A sky bridge connects the Libeskind-designed wing with the museum’s original North Building, which has an added bonus: a basement play area whose recent attractions included a Japanese memory game and an assortment of animal costumes for children to try on. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
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The Hamilton building’s rakish atrium sparkles with an installation by Tatsuo Miyajima — metallic circles that flash ever-changing LED displays of numbers and letters. The building’s interior is tumultuous, with walls that tilt severely and galleries that narrow abruptly. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
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Ed Ruscha’s “It Is Said,” left, hangs in a gallery that also features Andy Warhol soup-can prints. On weekends, the museum sets out backpacks, free for the taking, aimed at sparking interest among kids and other visitors in what’s on the walls. Each corresponds with a different gallery; they’re stuffed with puzzles, stories, art projects and other surprises that relate to the art. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
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British sculptor Antony Gormley’s “Quantum Cloud XXXIII” greets the visitor from the “prow” of the Hamilton Building, where it extends across a street toward the museum’s North Building. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
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Yue Minjun’s “The Last 5,000 Years” makes a stand in the “RADAR” exhibition that is ending today. The exhibition, the museum says, reflects collectors Vicki and Kent Logan’s conviction that art “must reflect the social or cultural events of the times but also be visually arresting and contain powerful, engaging imagery.” (Anne Cusack / LAT)
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A visitor to the museum last fall found “Phantom Tattoo,” a painting by Gene Davis, suspended from a tilting wall. (Anne Cusack / LAT)
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In the African art gallery, children learn about the process by which painters create. In the same gallery, kids can create a symphony from traditional instruments or visit a secret cave to watch a cartoon about an African mask. When the short film ends, a glass case nearby illuminates — and there’s the very mask they’ve just learned about. (Denver Art Museum)
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Further seeking to engage the museum’s young visitors, the Western American gallery features cubes that pose provocative questions about the art, encouraging them to consider various perspectives. (Carole Lee Vowell / Denver Art Museum)
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A boy takes up a museum challenge to re-create the design of the Hamilton wing or offer his own version. The North Building houses the museum’s Just for Fun Architecture Center. (Jeff Wells / Denver Art Museum)
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Elsewhere in the Western gallery, an interactive video lets you ask contemporary artists about their work. More activities geared to the youngster: An iPod station invites you to listen to a Lakota song or a classical symphony while writing about the West in a communal journal. An emotion board prompts you to choose the card that best reflects your mood — happy, curious, cynical, inspired — and read relevant quotes from artists and philosophers. (Carole Lee Vowell / Denver Art Museum)
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“The Big Sweep” by Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg is of more than tidy proportions. It’s a 35-foot broom and dustpan made of painted metal. The work, another of the large-scale pieces installed at the Hamilton building, was commissioned by the museum in 1999. (Ed Andrieski / AP)
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