Denver Art Museum
Warrior Effigy Vessel


The Frederick & Jan Mayer Center at the Denver Art Museum is dedicated to increasing awareness and promoting scholarship in the fields of Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art through the New World collections of the Denver Art Museum. To this end, the Mayer Center sponsors annual symposia and publication of their proceedings, the publication of additional volumes as it sees fit, research opportunities including a resident fellowship program and periodic study tours to Latin America and Spain.

The programming of the Mayer Center is developed and administered by the staff of the New World Department, Denver Art Museum:

Jorge Rivas Pérez, Mayer Curator of Spanish Colonial Art
Victoria Lyall, Mayer Curator of Pre-Columbian Art
Jesse Laird Ortega, Senior Curatorial Assistant, Pre-Columbian Art
Jared Katz, Mayer Center Fellow
Maria Luisa Minjares, Curatorial Assistant, Spanish Colonial Art

The New World Collection
Internationally, the Denver Art Museum is unparalleled in its comprehensive representation of the major stylistic movements from all the geographic areas and cultures of Latin America. The New World Collection, comprised of over 5,500 objects, is exhibited in a unified presentation of the arts of Latin America. Included are pre-Columbian masterworks of ceramic, stone, gold and jade, as well as paintings, sculpture, furniture and silver from the Spanish Colonial Period.

The Denver Art Museum Pre-Columbian Collection is encyclopedic in breath and depth, and exhibited in an open storage gallery, allowing scholars to view the entire collection. The Pre-Columbian collection represents nearly every major culture in Mesoamerica, lower Central America, and South America. The collection’s greatest strength is the Mayer Central American collection which includes gold, jade, stone and earthenware from Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama.  Maya art from Mexico, Guatemala and Belize is especially significant and contains a large number of very important works.  Other significant holdings from Mesoamerica include our West Mexican, Teotihuacan and Olmec collections.  South American collections are especially strong in Ecuadorian and Colombian art and in several of the Peruvian styles, particularly Moche, Wari, Tiwanaku and Chimu. Curator Margaret Young-Sánchez authored a compact survey of the DAM Pre-Columbian collection entitled, Pre-Columbian Art in the Denver Art Museum Collection.

The Denver Art Museum holds the finest collection of Spanish Colonial painting and furniture in the U.S. The collection is especially strong in Mexican painting, largely due to the collecting interests and generosity of the Mayer family.  Another area of great strength is Peruvian Colonial paintings from the Freyer collection.  Silver holdings, comprising the Appleman and Stapleton collections,and furniture holdings from all over Latin America represent the most comprehensive collection in this country.  The Anne Evans collection of Spanish Colonial art from the southwestern United States is yet another significant strength of the collection. Curator Donna Pierce is currently writing a compact survey of the DAM Spanish Colonial collection. It will be published in 2010.

To facilitate the study of the collections, the DAM library houses over 3,000 volumes pertaining to study of New World art, as well as a large number of serials and journals. Acquisition of publications is active. The 2007 Mayer Scholarship recipient, Paula Winn, stated, "The DAM New World Department library is an extraordinary collection. The diversity of texts, which span over 150 years of research, include rare and out of print publications from all over the world. The library is a tremendous resource for any scholar of Pre-Columbian and Colonial Latin American art."

To contact the Mayer Center please email
or call 720.913.0156.


left, top: (detail) Warrior Effigy Vessel. About AD 200-700. Teotihuacán, Mexico. Earthenware with pigment. Funds from 1986 Collector’s Choice; 1986.14a&b.
left, 2nd: (detail) Seated Figure. About 1000-500 BC. Olmec, Zumpango del Río, Guerrero, Mexico. Earthenware with slip, pigments. Funds from various donors; 1975.50.
left, 3rd: Portrait Jar. About AD 300-600. Moche, north coast, Peru. Earthenware with colored slips. Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Morris A. Long; 1985.410.
left, 4th: (detail) Warrior Figure with Trophy Head. About AD 500-1000. Atlantic Watershed, Costa Rica. Resist-decorated earthenware. Collection of Frederick & Jan Mayer; 246.1992.
left, bottom: (detail)  Mummy Bundle Mask. About AD 750-850. Huacho-Pativilca, Peru. Wood, shell, pigment. Gift of Frederick & Jan Mayer; 1972.186.
right, top: (detail) St. Michael and the Bull, Sebastian López de Arteaga. About 1650. Mexico. Oil on canvas. Gift of Frank Barrows Freyer II for Frank Barrows Freyer Collection by Exchange and Collection of Frederick & Jan Mayer; 1994.27.
right, 2nd and 3rd:  (details) Portraits of Simón de la Valle y Cuadra and María del Carmen Cortés Santelizes y Cartavio. About 1750. Peru. Oil on canvas. Funds from Frederick & Jan Mayer, Carl & Marilynn Thoma, Jim & Marybeth Vogelzang, Lorraine & Harley Higbie, Jr.; 2000.250.1&.2
right, 4th: (detail) Prince Henry the Navigator. Circa 1700. Portguese colony of Goa, South India. Ivory, paint. Gift of Olive Bigelow; 1971.475.
right, bottom: (detail) Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Rafael Aragón. Circa 1795-1862. Santa Fe or Córdova, New Mexico. Wood, gesso, paint. Funds from Walt Disney Imagineering; 1989.3.