An Incredible Transformation

East Wing Renovation Project Opens the Museum to Extraordinary New Possibilities

The Museum is about to undergo an incredible transformation – not unlike a butterfly unfolding its wings as it emerges from the cocoon. Made possible by the Sturm Family Foundation, the East Wing Project will rejuvenate and reimagine the historic theater, lobby and plaza on the east side of the Museum to bring about extraordinary new possibilities for the community. The updated campus-style venue and gathering place promises to create a fluid environment between indoor and outdoor spaces, fundamentally changing the way guests engage with the Museum as well as City Park and the surrounding area. The result will be greater opportunities for interaction, engagement and connection among visitors, Museum partners, local businesses and nonprofit organizations. 

The East Wing Project is made possible by a $20 million contribution from the Sturm Family Foundation, the largest private donation in the Museum’s history. This is a powerful gift that will have a historic impact and benefit the community for decades to come.  

“We would like to thank the Sturm Family Foundation for bringing their vision for the East Wing Project to life. What we hope to accomplish goes far beyond bricks and mortar – we are creating a new connected landscape of indoor and outdoor spaces that aligns with our community’s desires while empowering the Museum to carry out new programs, sustain our operations through business opportunities and drive our mission forward," said George Sparks, president and CEO of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

State-of-the-Art Tech Meets Seamless Design

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Conceptual rendering of the transformed East Plaza. (Photo/ Open Studio Architecture)

The initial phase of the project has already been completed and involved the creation of the first-class giant screen Infinity Theater. Upgrades included a new cutting-edge projection system, enhanced accessibility features such as a hearing induction loop, the installation of a level stage for hosting lectures and other events and a fresh new look for the lobby, among others.  

The second phase, which is now underway, will involve upgrading and renovating the remainder of the East Wing and Plaza. These state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor spaces will open the Museum to new activities and science demonstrations, provide enhanced film experiences and educational opportunities for camp-goers and school groups and invite curious park-goers to enjoy a meal on the east plaza. Expanded partnerships with leading local organizations will naturally result, attracting exciting feature films and connecting artists to Museum audiences. In addition, the grand scale of the site will allow it to accommodate everything from VIP receptions to outdoor programming for free days. 

This transformative project will create deeper connections between the Museum, City Park and the surrounding neighborhoods by fostering expanded programming, enhanced accessibility and community gathering and engagement. In addition, it will help add to future successes by providing a space for important revenue-generating activities and partnership opportunities,” said Ed Scholz, executive vice president of Finance and Operations at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. 

The East Wing Project Comes to Life

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Bicycles parked in front of Phipps Auditorium between 1940 and 1947. The image (IV.2001-3.P.) is from DMNS Archives. (Photo/ Albert C. Rogers)

For much of the Museum’s history, the East Wing and Plaza were considered unofficial gathering places for the community. The East Wing Project will hearken back to those days, creating a space that welcomes Museum guests and passersby to pause and enjoy a moment of peace, catch up with a friend or have a chance encounter with a curator or Museum educator-performer. 

The renovated spaces will support new and innovative programming. Drawing on the vast array of knowledge and expertise contained within the Museum, new offerings will add depth and richness to the museum experience. Programs will serve a range of age groups and could include feature film nights, speaker series with local and national experts, and interactive experiences that highlight museum collections and activate both the theater and the plaza. The space will welcome visitors to join in the fun and immerse themselves in the unique brand of Denver Museum of Nature & Science informal science learning opportunities.  

“We are grateful to collaborate with the Museum on a transformative and comprehensive renovation. This investment in the Museum’s infrastructure lays the groundwork for new ways to experience the Museum – inside and out," said Donald L. Sturm, chair of Sturm Family Foundation.

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