Emmanuel Gallery to reopen in fall of 2017

Photo // Bobby Jones

Photo // Bobby Jones


The Emmanuel Gallery, a lone and quaint church in the middle of Auraria Campus, won’t be barren for long after it reopens as a hub for art in the Denver community.

Originally built in 1876, the Emmanuel Gallery started off as an Episcopal Church and was transformed years later into a Jewish Synagogue when the Jewish population increased in Denver. In 1973, Auraria Campus took control of it and converted the synagogue into the Emmanuel Gallery to serve all three institutions on campus.

The campus acquisition brought the recently established director and curator for the Emmanuel Gallery, Jeff Lambson, to CU Denver. As a husband, father, and art enthusiast who traveled around the nation, Lambson finally landed back in Denver to develop and share his passion for the arts. After working with the critically acclaimed Smithsonian Museum, the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum, and the Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., one of the nation’s leading muses in modern and contemporary art, he moved back to his alma mater at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Lambson was able to bring contemporary art to a conservative town, turning it into one of the best-attended collegiate art galleries in the entire nation.

To the surprise of many, the Emmanuel Gallery shut its doors in mid-2016 without reason, leaving many Auraria Campus and Denver community art aficionados with questions. Details will later be unveiled to the student body, and campus-goers can expect a series of student shows at the gallery later this spring.

Coming to the Emmanuel Gallery, according to Lambson is a challenge with renovations and getting it ready for its big debut and grand reopening this upcoming fall semester. Lambson is continuing to explore what the gallery might become one day. Being in the middle of campus will definitely guide the museum to new heights. “Students will have the ability to explore ideas of different conversations going on around campus, things that they’re most concerned about,” Lambson said.

Students will be pivotal for the success of the Emmanuel Gallery, which will be seeking out more interns in the near future. Current intern and Art History major at CU Denver Liz Roths shared why this space is crucial for the campus. “With the stress that the art community is under, it’s important to have these spaces to prepare students to jump into the professional world,” Roths said.

Lambson wants the Emmanuel Gallery to be a space where students can create, learn, and garner field experience to be able to use their skills to work in museums around the nation. “We want to be integrated and have our own unique space that students can bring to life,” Lambson said. 

It was also important for Lambson to be at the table with the other grand art museums around Denver, bringing internationally renowned artists like Jann Haworth, the artist behind The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover.

Though it may seem closed on the outside, hundreds of hours of work are going into the reopening of the Emmanuel Gallery to curate a welcoming space place for all students. “Art isn’t for everybody, but it can be for anybody,” Lambson said.

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