What Is the Aspen Art Museum? (with picture)

A.E. Freeman
A.E. Freeman
The Aspen Art Museum displays the newest works of art in Aspen, Colorado.
The Aspen Art Museum displays the newest works of art in Aspen, Colorado.

The Aspen Art Museum is a contemporary art museum located in Aspen, Colorado in the United States. It is a non-collecting museum, or kunsthalle, which means it does not have a permanent collection. Instead, the Aspen Art Museum features rotating exhibits, which allows it to display the newest works of art. The museum first opened in 1979 and has offered exhibits and events ever since. It first operated in a 9,000-square-foot (about 836-square-meter) building, with plans to move to a larger building. As of 2011, the museum offers free admission.

Exhibits at the Aspen Art Museum usually last for only a few months before being taken down. Some exhibits are on display for only a month. The mission of the museum is to present the most important and newest developments in international contemporary art. In addition to exhibitions, the Aspen Art Museum also offers lectures and events. Every year, the museum hosts an event called ArtCrush, which is a week-long auction and social event designed to raise money for the museum.

The museum holds an architecture lecture series annually that discusses the importance of public architecture. The architecture lectures are free and open to the public. In addition to the architecture series, the museum also hosts the Questrom lecture series, which delves more deeply into the art on display. Other lectures attempt to demystify contemporary art or explore the exhibits in the museum's gallery more closely.

The Aspen Art Museum also hosts art workshops designed for families. The workshops give adults and children a chance to experiment with collage, sculpture, and other art forms. Like admission to the museum, the workshops are offered free of charge. There's also a Fourth of July parade yearly that is targeted toward families.

The museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums. Only four museums in the state of Colorado have accreditation. The Aspen Art Museum is the only one on the Western Slope to have accreditation.

Since 1979, the museum has been in a converted historic hydroelectric plant, located just outside the city of Aspen. The building is 9,000 square feet (about 836 square meters), which the museum has outgrown. Plans are in the works to construct a building with 12,500 square feet (about 1,161 square meters) of exhibit space as well as a garden on the roof, a cafeteria, and a museum shop. While the current building is outside of the city, the new one will be located in downtown Aspen.

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Discussion Comments


@titans62 - You are correct. It seems like that this place was a community effort to reach out to local artists and allow them to be able to display their art for others to see.

I live near Terre Haute Indiana and the history of this museum seems similar to the one in Aspen as it seems to have started in a converted building, garnered success, and eventually found its way into a permanent building to house the art work.

I feel like places like this allow people who are not necessarily in an art oriented mecca to be able to learn about art and appreciate it.

Since it is in Aspen too, this allows people from all over the world to see the art displayed and may allow some local artists to get noticed by people from other countries who are vacationing.

I am now wondering if there are any famous artists from Aspen or have had their work displayed at this particular museum?


@Emilski - I have to totally agree with you. It does not seem to me like this play would have a lot of well known art work if the pieces they have simply rotate every month.

I am thinking that this is more or less a local place that is used to house the work of local artists and at least give them a chance of displaying their work to the public.

I have to wonder if this was an idea someone came up with in order to help local artists and that is why it is not really a true building for an art museum, but rather a converted building to house the art.

It seems like it has been somewhat successful as they are building a better facility that is bigger and is also a permanent location that will house the art that they display.


@jcraig - I do find it interesting that Aspen has an art museum, but I am not at all too surprised considering that the town does bring in a lot of different types of people from all around the world.

I really do not see Aspen as being too remote of a place and because of the amount of tourists that come into the city limits I think that they created this art museum to appeal to the art lovers that are vacationing in town.

As far as what they have there at the art museum it seems like that it is a more simple art museum that does not have a lot of well known art work and may very well rely on local artists and artists from the surrounding areas to supply the artwork in the museum.


I have to say that I find it very interesting to think that there is actually an art museum in as a remote place as Aspen Colorado.

I understand that Aspen is a renowned tourist destination and is a very popular place for people to vacation to, but I have to say that it is a place I do not think of when I think of a place that has an accredited art museum.

I have to wonder if because of the remoteness of Aspen if the art work displayed is of local flavor or of artists who are from Colorado or the surrounding areas?

I find this to be fascinating that there is a museum in such a location and would like to learn more about what they actually have there.

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    • The Aspen Art Museum displays the newest works of art in Aspen, Colorado.
      The Aspen Art Museum displays the newest works of art in Aspen, Colorado.