Lanny Martin Obituary, Death- The departure of Lanny Martin has left all of us here at the Denver Art Museum, including the Board of Trustees, our staff, and our volunteers, feeling profoundly devastated.
All of those who had the opportunity to interact with him will remember him as a leader who was polite and compassionate, and who had a crystal clear vision about the significant role that the arts and creativity play in the lives of the individuals who make up our community. Lanny was a remarkable teacher and a friend who was always there for me.
He established an ambitious tone for finishing our campus, extending our program, and establishing areas for community interaction, all of which contributed to the success of the Denver Art Museum over the past several decades. The city of Denver’s business and cultural sectors will be profoundly affected by this loss. We, together with the staff and volunteers of the museum, are looking forward to honoring his vision and legacy as we carry on with our mission to showcase our community’s passion and creativity.
During the decades that Martin served on the Board of Trustees of the Denver Art institution, the institution underwent important transformations under Martin’s leadership, allowing it to better provide the Denver community with exceptional art exhibitions and programming. In 2016, Lanny and his wife, Sharon, gave the DAM a lead contribution of $25 million to initiate the campaign to renovate the landmark structure that was originally created for the museum by the Italian architect Gio Ponti.
Their contribution acted as a driving force, providing financial backing for the campus’s refurbishment and extension of the northern portion. The finished campus was reopened to the general public in October of 2021, at which time it was given the name Lanny and Sharon Martin Building in recognition of their assistance.
1994 was the year that Lanny first joined the Board of Trustees for the museum, and in 2011, he was promoted to the position of Co-Chairman alongside the museum’s longtime Chairman Frederic C. Hamilton. He was appointed Chairman of the Board in 2013, and he remained in that role for a total of ten years. During that period, he claimed that the accomplishments he was most proud of were completing the campus, bringing world-class art exhibitions to Denver, and initiating the DAM’s Free for Kids free entry program.
All of these things were accomplished when he was the director of the Denver Art Museum. Lanny remained to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees even after Sarah Anschutz was elected to lead the museum’s Board of Trustees earlier this year. Lanny enjoyed and supported the arts and culture throughout the region, including acting as a prior board member and Chairman of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation in Denver, Chairman Emeritus of Central City Opera, and chairman of the Clyfford Still Museum Foundation.
In addition to his job at the DAM, Lanny served as Chairman Emeritus of Central City Opera and chairman of the Clyfford Still Museum Foundation. Additionally, he held the position of trustee at Northwestern University, his alma school. In his spare time, Lanny was a passionate art collector who focused primarily on works produced throughout the 20th century as well as art produced in the American West. The Denver Art Museum, along with all of the other towns and organizations that Lanny supported, were fortunate to have known him, and we are thankful to the entire Martin family for their trust and collaboration in this endeavor.