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History of 

Finding Inspiration in Every Turn

The idea for the Denver Center for African Arts was born at the home of Dr. Paul Hamilton in March 2013, when a group of art lovers and community leaders gathered to view his remarkable collection of African art.


While his guests were intrigued by the collection, Dr. Hamilton had invited them there to discuss ways to preserve and exhibit the collected works in community. For years, Dr. Hamilton had dreamed of a cultural educational center grounded by the collection and his personal library. He wanted to cultivate and sustain a fertile space for creative growth and development in Denver and beyond.


Dr. Hamilton’s visitors were inspired by his vision, and it began to grow. It developed slowly, like the indigenous African bamboo tree, which appears dormant on the surface as roots extend invisibly beneath the earth. Quietly, the collection expanded. Dr. Hamilton had more pieces assessed and catalogued, and oversaw development of new educational materials.


In 2020, new shoots sprung from the soil and the vision began to manifest in physical form. Internationally respected, Houston-based African art appraiser, Craig Fashoro appraised the collection at $3.5M. Wellness expert and community leader Solwazi Johnson initiated an official Colorado nonprofit corporation in August 2021 and 501(c)(3) designation was granted by the IRS. The name was solidified as the Denver Center for African Arts (DCAA) in September of 2022. And with the assistance of Judge Gary Jackson (Ret.), the law firm of Holland & Hart began providing pro bono legal services.


Promising growth and development continue for the DCAA. In January 2023, the estate of Mark McCue (Denver, Colorado) gifted the DCAA a 34-piece African Art Collection, which will support the new mobile education program under development by the DCAA education committee. In addition, with the blessing of the Denver Public Schools legal team, Denver School of the Arts expressed written intent to provide the DCAA with exhibition space, secure and climate-controlled storage, and lecture space on their expanded campus in the tree-lined Park Hill neighborhood of East Denver. In this historic and accessible location, the DCAA will store and exhibit the Hamilton African Art Collection, the book collection, and periodicals, which will comprise the center’s initial core. 

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