Call for artists: Denver Museum of Nature & Science and The Denver Arts & Venues Public Art program need a site-specific art installation (Colorado)

Denver Museum of Nature & Science Public Art Project
Wellington E. Webb Municipal Building
Denver Office of Cultural Affairs
Public Art Program
201 W. Colfax Avenue
Dept. 1007
Denver, CO 80202


Entry Deadline: 5/28/18


Images - Minimum: 6, Maximum: 6 
Total Media - Minimum: 6, Maximum: 6 

View Site Details

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Budget: APPROXIMATELY $85,000.00
(Colorado artists only)

 DEADLINE: Monday, May 28, 2018 11:59 p.m. MST


The Denver Arts & Venues Public Art program, now in its 30th year, and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS), seek to commission a Colorado artist or team of artists to create a site-specific art installation to be integrated into the exterior site design for the Morgridge Family Exploration Center, formally the new Education & Collections Facility (ECF), of the DMNS, a 126,000-sq. ft. addition on the south side of the existing building. 

 Mission and Vision: Denver Museum of Nature & Science

 Be a catalyst! Ignite our community’s passion for nature and science.

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science envisions an empowered community that loves, understands, and protects our natural world.

Core Values

·         We love science.

·         We are curious, creative, and playful.

·         We cultivate relationships with each other, diverse
communities, the environment, and for our future.

·         We think critically and act with empathy.

 Students and park goers are the primary visitors to the Southeast end of the plaza and Morgridge Family Education Center. The pathway to the Morgridge Family Exploration Center from the bus drop-off is an opportunity for students to connect to the natural environment with a walk through the City Park.  This arrival sequence defines the idea that Denver Museum of Nature & Science is City Park’s Museum. Two carefully preserved large existing deciduous trees frame the foreground of the Morgridge Family Exploration Center and the park’s irrigated lawn abuts the building around the perimeter reinforcing the engagement of the building with the park. 

  City Park

City Park is a historic 330-acre urban park in Denver, CO. The park contains the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Ferril and Duck Lakes, and the Pavilion. City Park, the largest and most notable park in Denver, is located in central Denver, slightly more than a mile east of downtown. The park is one mile long and three-quarters of a mile wide. The park's boundaries are:

  • West-York Street
  • South-17th Avenue
  • East-Colorado Boulevard
  • North-23rd Avenue

The initial park layout was designed by Henry Meryweather in 1882 in the tradition of both English pastoral gardens and Central Park in New York City, with a flowing, casual design. Construction of the park began in 1886 with “a sinuous tangle of winding carriageways, walks and promenades” put into place. City Beautiful movement, initiated at the 1893 World’s Fair, further influenced the design. The arrangement of roads and walks gave the park its pastoral feel, many of which are still in place today.

 After the turn-of-the-century the park was linked, as originally envisioned, to a wider system of parks using parkways and grand boulevards. During this period and consistent with the City Beautiful philosophy, monumental sculpture was introduced, including the McLellan Gateway, the Sopris Gateway, the Monti Gateway, the Sullivan Gateway and the Thatcher Memorial Fountain, each marking park entrances.

 Public Art at the DMNS


The art selection panel has set forth a set of specific goals and parameters for this public art project with the hope of creating guidelines that will inspire a unique, one-of-a-kind installation for the museum, the park, Denver and the region.

 The Site for the Artwork

The selection panel seeks for a public artwork to be sited on the circular mulch area near the southeast corner of the building for a stand-alone artwork or multiple artworks. It should not compete with the existing artwork located on the hardscape plaza to the west and it cannot be placed under the canopy of any tree. This surrounding area is accessible to all citizens, not just ticketed museum-goers. The selection panel encourages artwork that attracts and engages the community with an unexpected element. The artists may be required to participate in some of the programming initiatives held at DMNS or outreach programs to Denver neighborhoods.

Materials & Media

The selection panel is open to two-dimensional and/or three-dimensional artwork in all media, materials and formats including interactive art, environmental art, eco-art, sound art and landscape art. However, because the main site for artwork is located above a state-of-the-art collections facility, it is imperative that the artwork not utilize liquids of any kind, nor require irrigation systems.

 Appropriate & Unique

Consistent with the overall mission of Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the public art for the Morgridge Family Exploration Center project should “inspire curiosity and excite minds of all ages through scientific discovery and the presentation and preservation of the world’s unique treasures,” and tie into the DMNS’s vision to “create a community of critical thinkers who understand the lessons of the past and act as responsible stewards of the future.” In accordance with these goals, several themes/criteria were identified by the selection panel.

·         Interactive: The artwork should be dynamic and community members should be able to interact in some way so that their action (cause) can create a result (effect). Multimodal interaction with the artwork (visual, auditory, tactile, etc.) and a variety of perspectives/experiences is encouraged.

·         Science/Nature: The artwork should have a focus on science and nature, without requiring interpretive signage or instructions to the audience. 

·         Unique: The exterior of the museum already features two large dinosaur replicas, a large crystal sculptural artwork, and several life-like bronze animal sculptures. A unique and broader interpretation of science and nature is encouraged for this commission.

·         Community: The Museum embraces and celebrates the cultural diversity of our region. Artwork should reflect that diverse perspective, and should be inclusive and culturally accessible to all regardless of age, education, or cultural and racial background.

·         School Children: Each year, more than 250,000 school children enter the museum through the south school entrance. The artwork should be relevant to children preschool through grade 12, without requiring interpretive signage or instructions as noted above. 

·         Sustainability: The new DMNS wing has achieved LEED platinum certification and the artwork should also be sensitive to sustainability and conservation issues. The artwork could reference (directly or indirectly) the sustainability of the planet.

·         One commission: The selection panel hopes to commission one artist/team for this commission, but encourages multiple sites for artwork rather than a solitary “moment.”

 Maintenance & Durability

All applicants are expected to consider the issues of long-term conservation and maintenance of public art, along with time and budget. These projects exist in the public realm and are exposed to weather and physical stresses, as well as vulnerable to vandalism. Public art projects should be fabricated of highly durable, low-maintenance materials. Semifinalists are encouraged to consult with a professional conservator prior to the submission of a final proposal. Selected artist proposals will be reviewed by the City of Denver’s Public Art Committee and other appropriate city agencies to ensure conformity with city standards of maintenance and durability, as well as ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards. All finalists are expected to stay on budget and to complete work in an approved timeframe.


This project is open to artists residing in Colorado, regardless of race, color, creed, gender, gender variance, sexual orientation, national origin, age, religion, marital status, political opinion or affiliation, or mental or physical disability. Artists working in any media are eligible to apply. Artists are not required to have previous experience in public art. Emerging artists are encouraged to apply for this commission. Contact the Denver Public Art office with any questions regarding this designation.

 Applying for These Opportunities

In response to this RFQ, applicants will be asked to submit six digital images, a résumé, and a statement of interest no longer than 2,000 characters (CaFÉ™). From these applications, the selection panel will choose up to five semifinalists who will be brought in for an interview with the panel. If a formal proposal is requested, the artist will be provided an honorarium of $500 to prepare and present the proposal in person. Semifinalistswill receive more specific information regarding the site and have the opportunity to meet with project representatives, the DMNS and Denver Public Art staff.  Artists/teams selected as semifinalists will be required to submit a Diversity & Inclusiveness Form in order for their proposals to be considered, which will be provided upon notification. As directed by Executive Order 101, this form must be submitted for all city solicitations of proposals. Denver Arts & Venues Public Art Program staff can provide guidance on filling out this form. Semifinalists will be expected to pay for travel expenses from the honorarium. From the interview or proposal, an artist or artist team will be selected for this commission. The selected artist or artist team for the commission will collaborate with the Public Art Program staff, the DMNS, and Denver Parks and Recreation design team when finalizing their designs for installation.

 Please visit: for examples of recent commissions.

 Can a Team Apply?

Applicants may apply as a single artist or multi-person collaborative group.  If applying as a team, please submit one résumé for the team, with one to two pages per team member.

 Diversity and Inclusiveness

Denver Executive Order No. 101 establishes strategies between the City and private industry to use diversity and inclusiveness to promote economic development in the City and County of Denver and to encourage more businesses to compete for City contracts and procurements. The Executive Order requires, among other things, the collection of certain information regarding the practices of the City’s contractors and consultants toward diversity and inclusiveness and encourages/requires City agencies to include diversity and inclusiveness policies in selection criteria where legally permitted in solicitations for City services or goods. Diversity and Inclusiveness means inviting values, perspectives and contributions of people from diverse backgrounds, and integrates diversity into its hiring and retention policies, training opportunities, and business development methods to provide an equal opportunity for each person to participate, contribute, and succeed within the organization’s workplace. “Diversity” encompasses a wide variety of human differences, including differences such as race, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, physical disabilities, appearance, historically underutilized and disadvantaged persons, as well as social identities such as religion, marital status, socio-economic status, lifestyle, education, parental status, geographic background, language ability, and veteran status.


The budget for this commission is approximately $85,000 USD which will be allocated to the artist/team selected. These funds come from the City of Denver’s One Percent for Art Ordinance resulting from several Bond-funded projects at the DMNS. This contract amount is inclusive of all costs associated with the project including, but not limited to: the artist’s design fee, other consultation fees such as structural engineering consultation, insurance (including Colorado Workers Compensation), tools, materials, fabrication, transportation, installation, any building or site modification required, travel to and from the site, per diem expenses, project documentation, contingency to cover unexpected expenses, and any other costs. For all work done on city property, prevailing wage requirements will be applied.

 Tentative Timeline

(Except for online application deadline, timeline is subject to adjustments)

 Monday, May 28, 2018: 11:59 MST          Deadline for entry (via CaFÉ™ system)

July 2018                                                             Semifinalist Selection

August 2018                                                        Finalist Selection

September 2018                                               Finalist Notification

 Project Selection Panel

According to the Denver Public Art Policy, the Art Selection Panel plays an active role in the acquisition of public art for Denver. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science selection panel is comprised of 10 voting members. The selection panel is responsible for reviewing the site, establishing criteria, writing a call for entry, reviewing applications, and selecting and interviewing semi-finalists and finalists. 

 Selection Process

Up to five artists/artist teams will be selected as semifinalists. Semifinalists will be required to consult with DMNS staff and Denver Public Art staff prior to the submission of a final proposal. The selection panel will interview semifinalists and/or review proposals from the semifinalists and recommend finalists for the commission. The final recommendation of the selection panel will be presented to the Public Art Committee, the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs, and Mayor Michael B. Hancock for final approval. All decisions of the City and County of Denver are final.

 Materials to be Submitted

Please read this section carefully. Incomplete applications will NOT be considered. The applicant’s name must appear on all materials submitted.

 All materials must be submitted online, via the CaFÉ™ website ( There is no application fee to apply or to use the CaFÉ™ online application system.

 Digital Images - In order to be considered for this project, the applicant must electronically submit six digital images of previously completed artworks through the CaFÉ™ system. Artists who wish to submit kinetic, sound or media works must submit a complete CaFÉ™ application and include links to the work uploaded online, such as YouTube or Vimeo.

 Instructions on how to format images to CaFÉ™ specifications can be found at Assistance in using the CaFÉ™ system is available during regular business hours by calling 303-629-1166 or 888-562-7232, or via email at If an artist does not have access to a computer, s/he may call 720-865-5562 to make arrangements to use a computer at Denver Arts & Venues offices.

 Statement of InterestPlease submit a statement briefly outlining your interest in the Denver Museum of Nature & Science Public Art Project and experience working on projects of this kind (2,000-character maximum) via CaFÉ™. 

 RésuméSubmit a one to two-page current résumé via CaFÉ™ that highlights your professional accomplishments as an artist. Please name your résumé file accordingly: Last name.First initial (i.e. Smith.J.pdf).  Résumés that are more than two pages will not be downloaded. If applying as a team, please submit one résumé with one to two pages per team member.

 Please direct all questions about the project to Public Art Administrator Rudi Cerri at 720-865-5562 or