Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
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Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art  
Frequently Asked Questions

There are many questions often asked about Kirkland or the foundation. We hope to answer some of those questions in this section. However, if you do not find the answers you are looking for, or would like to share your opinion, feel free to contact us. You might see your question posted on our site.

Q: How long has the studio building been in existence?
A: It was built in 1910–1911 by English-born artist Henry Read (1851–1935) as an art school.

Q: Was the original studio ever used as a residence?

No, the original studio was never used as a residence. It was used by Henry Read for the Students' School of Art from 1911–1931. Then, Kirkland utilized the building to create his art works, teach his students and host functions for outside art organizations (1932–1981).

Q: Where did Kirkland live?
A: Kirkland's residence was located exactly five blocks south at 817 Pearl Street. The house is still there and still used as a private home. A large addition has been built onto the back of the original 1904 house, where a garden with a lily pond was, but the old part where Kirkland and his wife lived has not been appreciably changed. 
Q: Who started the foundation?
A: Upon Kirkland's death, Colorado native and family friend, Hugh Grant became Executor of Kirkland's estate. After struggling to pay the estate taxes over a number of years, Mr. Grant then established the Kirkland Museum and Foundation in 1996. From that day forward, he promoted Kirkland's artwork nationally and internationally, bringing wide-spread awareness of Vance Kirkland's work. In addition Mr. Grant built most of the Colorado and regional collection and the international decorative art collection.

Q: Why did Vance Kirkland suspend himself above his paintings?
A: Kirkland was only about 5' 2½" and some of his paintings were so large that he could not reach the center from the sides of his worktable. Also he could not bend over them from a standing position for many hours. In addition, laying across four straps, suspended from the ceiling above the paintings enabled Kirkland to, in a sense, submerge himself in the creation of his works. When a painting is laid flat, it has no up or down.

Q: Was Kirkland ever married?

Kirkland married Anne Fox Oliphant Olson (a librarian) on July 26, 1941. (Anne originally turned down a proposal from Kirkland only to marry him years later.) They had no children. They remained married for 28 years until she died February 3, 1970.

Q: How did Kirkland determine his unusual color combinations?

Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of Kirkland’s paintings is that his color combinations are partly derived from classical music. Kirkland was synesthetic, meaning, as he applied it, he could hear color. While Kirkland enjoyed a wide variety of music, including jazz, he derived different color schemes for some of his paintings from modern classical composers who had occasional dissonance in their music: Bartok, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Ives, Mahler, Stravinsky, Berg, Ravel, Piston, Debussy and others.


Q: How is the museum funded?
A: Kirkland Museum receives financial support through two main sources of funding: 1.) earned income from admissions, gift shop sales and memberships and 2.) donations from individuals and foundations.