Denver real estate developer John Madden has donated a collection of 120 artworks valued at $10 million to the University of Denver.
The new Madden Collection at the University of Denver includes artworks by artists ranging from pioneering Western painters Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran to American masters Thomas Hart Benton and Robert Rauschenberg and contemporary Chinese-born American painter Hung Liu.
Reflecting the personal collecting interests of Madden and his late wife, Marjorie, the collection also is rich in works by Italian painters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including impressionists Francesco Gioli and Federico Zandomeneghi. Many of the newly donated works are currently on view at the Madden Museum of Art in Greenwood Village, Colo. Madden established the free public museum in 2008.
“The impact of this gift and our relationship with Mr. Madden is enormous,” says University Chancellor Rebecca Chopp. “He has assembled an important and broad-ranging collection, and we’re particularly honored that he has entrusted us with the care of a legacy that benefits our students and the wider community.”
The collection doubles the monetary value of the University Art Collection’s existing art assets, which now number more than 3,400 works. Through this transformational gift, the University expands its role as a regional leader in a new model for the museum profession — accessible collections. The Madden Collection at the University of Denver creates new opportunities for students taking classes in art history, museum studies, studio art and many other fields. Using the full University Art Collections, which have been transformed into a hands-on teaching laboratory for research and study of visual art objects, DU students have behind-the-scenes access to original artworks for research, curatorial projects and professional training opportunities in museum studies.
“Since my teenage years, I’ve been pretty passionate about art, and I really think that access to the arts is crucial for young people,” Madden says. “I’ve tried to include fine art and artful design in my commercial real estate projects. Our Fiddler’s Green campus was the original home of the Museum of Outdoor Art, and it’s now the home of the Madden Museum of Art. I always look to how these projects can benefit young people and students, and I’m convinced that the University of Denver can carry these interests forward on multiple fronts.”
Although the University of Denver’s earliest surviving art acquisition was an 1890 gift from Albert Bierstadt, the program for care and use of DU’s art holdings launched formally in 2005 with the appointment of DU’s first curator for the University Art Collections, Dan Jacobs. Since then, more than 3,400 art objects have been catalogued; those not on view on campus have been rehoused in a professionally managed off-campus facility. Access for students, faculty and researchers is a major priority, leading to the creation of a fully searchable online database in 2010. The Madden Collection at the University of Denver becomes the latest and highest-profile addition to this growing resource.
“For a decade, we’ve worked hard to organize our collections. Mr. Madden’s gift perfectly complements some of our existing holdings, particularly in European and American landscape painting,” Jacobs says. “Gifts of pieces by Grandma Moses, Robert Rauschenberg and Viola Frey take us into whole new areas with works of truly significant quality. The Madden collection even features a stunning collection of work by local painter Daniel Sprick, adding yet another dimension. It’s a transformational gift, and I’m really looking forward to sharing it with colleagues, students and our expanding audience.”
Madden and the Madden Family Foundation also have provided support for students studying in DU’s School of Art and Art History as well as underwriting the Madden Challenge, an undergraduate case competition in which first-year business students build a mobile app and present a plan to bring it to market.