Christoph Heinrich elevates the Denver Art Museum
2020 CEO of the Year Finalist: Heinrich spearheaded a slate of world-class temporary exhibitions
Christoph Heinrich, Director
Denver Art Museum, Denver
Heinrich’s first day on the job at the Hamburg Kunsthalle art museum in his native Germany set his career path in stone. “After that day, I never wanted to work anywhere else but a museum,” he says.
Heinrich, 60, came to the Denver Art Museum as a curator of contemporary art in 2007 and stepped into the director role in 2010. He has since helped elevate the century-old institution by shepherding a number of gifts to the permanent collection while spearheading a slate of world-class temporary exhibitions.
Following highly successful Van Gogh and Cartier programs, the museum’s 2019-20 “Claude Monet: Truth of Nature” exhibition drew almost 400,000 visitors, breaking all previous records. Heinrich credits his colleagues with bringing the Monet exhibition together by leveraging connections to bring in paintings from 15 countries. “I love how this team operates,” he says.
The arrival of COVID-19 was followed by “a really intense six months,” Heinrich says. The museum reopened with reduced capacity in late June, and he is cautiously looking ahead to 2021, and opening the reimagined Martin Building and new museum welcome center. “We added to our core values patience and flexibility,” he laughs.
With an “amazing, reactive and resilient” team of 360 employees and 400 volunteers at the Denver Art Museum, there’s a lot of talent and passion to tap into, he adds. “Your job as a leader is to shut up and listen,” Heinrich says. “You need to step back and let people do what they’re really good at.”
This article is part of ColoradoBiz Magazine’s annual CEO of the Year feature. Read more about this year’s winner Kurt Culbertson and the other finalists: