$25 mil­lion will launch art mu­seum ren­o­va­tion

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - Joanne David­son: 303-809-1314, par­ti­writer@hot­mail.com and @joanne­david­son on Twit­ter

It’s ob­vi­ous now why in­vi­ta­tions to the 36th Col­lec­tors’ Choice were shaped like the Den­ver Art Mu­seum’s North Build­ing.

The de­sign was a hint of what was to come.

At the stroke of 9 p.m., the record 500 guests at­tend­ing this Dec. 8 gala learned that the 2016 honorees — DAM board chair J. Lan­dis “Lanny” Martin and his wife, Sharon — had pledged $25 mil­lion to launch an ex­ten­sive re­make of the iconic 1971 struc­ture de­signed by Ital­ian ar­chi­tect Gio Ponti, in co­op­er­a­tion with the Den­ver-based firm James Sudler As­so­ci­ates.

As a means of say­ing thank you, the build­ing will be re­named in the Martins’ honor.

Mu­seum di­rec­tor Christoph Hein­rich lauded the Martins for their long­stand­ing com­mit­ment to the DAM, not­ing that their sup­port has “el­e­vated the mu­seum into a na­tional and in­ter­na­tional desti­na­tion.”

“Their $25 mil­lion gift will launch a new era … and en­sure the high­est qual­ity pro­grams and ser­vice to our 700,000 an­nual vis­i­tors.”

Col­lec­tors’ Choice 36 was chaired by three cou­ples who are among the Martins’ clos­est friends: Chris and Joy Dins­dale, Wil­liam Matthews and Laura Martin and Fred and Jana Bartlit. Gov. John Hick­en­looper and his wife, Robin Pringle Hick­en­looper, were the hon­orary chair­men, along with Jane Hamil­ton, widow of an­other of the mu­seum’s ma­jor bene­fac­tors, Fred Hamil­ton.

The $830,000 that was raised was the most in Col­lec­tors’ Choice his­tory.

News of the Martins’ gift wasn’t the only sur­prise that night.

Lanny Martin, the founder and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Platte River Ven­tures, re­ceived both his bach­e­lor of science in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion and juris doc­tor de­grees from North­west­ern Univer­sity and so or­ga­niz­ers of the gala thought it would be pretty cool to have North­west­ern’s march­ing band travel to Den­ver and do a num­ber or two.

The Martins are also big fans of opera — Lanny is pres­i­dent and chair­man emer­i­tus of the Cen­tral City Opera, ti­tles he also holds with the Hous­ton Grand Opera, and Sharon is a past pres­i­dent of the Cen­tral City Opera Guild — so it was only natural to in­clude some arias in the evening’s en­ter­tain­ment.

Lyric tenor Matthew Polen­zani, who has ap­peared with the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Opera, Seat­tle Opera, Royal Opera House and the San Fran­cisco Opera, came in from his home in New York to per­form.

From left: Mike and Karen Long, Chris and Joy Dins­dale (Col­lec­tors’ Choice 36 gala chairs) and Mar­i­lyn Coors.

From left: Jorge Sil­vetti of Bos­ton-based Machado Sil­vetti Ar­chi­tects, and honorees Sharon Martin and Den­ver Art Mu­seum Board Chair­man J. Lan­dis (Lanny) Martin. Steve Peter­son, for the Den­ver Art Mu­seum

Tom and Michelle Whit­ten and Christoph Hein­rich, the Fred­er­ick and Jan Mayer di­rec­tor of the Den­ver Art Mu­seum.

Wil­liam Matthews and Laura Bar­ton, Col­lec­tors’ Choice 36 gala chairs.

Jana and Fred Bartlit, Col­lec­tors’ Choice 36 gala chairs.

Chris and Lu Law.

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