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Big exhibits bloom all over town–“Tut,” the Biennial and an outdoor Henry Moore

Call it Denver’s summer of blockbusters.

Three big, very different exhibitions will be duking it out for the public’s attention.

Heading the list is King Tut — an abbreviated name that draws instant recognition and conjures the exoticism, mystery and thrill of ancient Egypt.

The 1922 discovery of the young pharaoh’s untouched, luxurious tomb drew international coverage and sparked a sensation that continues to this day.

The Denver Art Museum is serving as host for the touring show,”Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs,” which will open June 29 and run through Jan. 9 — nine days longer than originally announced.

On view will be 50 objects from Tut’s tomb, as well as at least 50 objects related to other Egyptian pharaohs — all on loan from the Cairo Museum in cooperation with Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Museum officials have declined to provide projected attendance figures, but its North American premiere in Atlanta last year drew about 400,000 people.

Tickets for the general public are $25 weekdays and $30 weekends, with youth discounts available. They can be purchased at tutdenver.com or 877-888-8587 or 866-461-6556.

Offering a potentially more relaxed and approachable experience is the outdoor exhibition, “Moore in the Gardens,” which continues through Jan. 31 at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Gracefully situated amid the plants and flowers are 20 monumental, mostly bronze works by celebrated British sculptor Henry Moore, ranging in size from a sprawling, white figure 29 1/2 feet long to an intimate piece less than 3 feet tall.

This first major open-air display of Moore’s sculptures in the Western United States is also the largest and most ambitious art exhibition ever mounted by the gardens.

Lisa Eldred, director of exhibitions, hopes the show will attract viewers from across the region and elevate the Botanic Gardens’ 2010 attendance to 1 million visitors — well beyond the record set last year.

Admission is $12.50, $9.50 seniors and military personnel and $9 students and youths. Call 720-865-3500, or visit botanicgardens.org.

Rounding out the three blockbusters is “The Nature of Things,” the main visual-arts component of the Biennial of the Americas, a kind of mini- world’s fair celebrating the culture, ideas and people of the Western Hemisphere.

Details are still being worked out, but more than 30 artists from North America and South America will be featured in galleries in the newly renovated McNichols Building in Civic Center.

The show, which will be accompanied by daily lectures and performances, will run during July. More information is available at biennialofthe americas.org.

A range of exhibitions is taking place at museums and galleries around Denver in conjunction with the biennial. Several of the highlights:

“Energy Effects: Art and Artifacts From the Landscape of Global Excess,” June 30-Sept. 13, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. This exhibition considers the positive side of excess — its ability to produce extraordinary artistic and scientific achievements. 303- 298-7554 or mcadenver.org.

“Liberadores/Liberators,” June 24-Sept. 26, Museo de las Americas, 861 Santa Fe Drive. This show looks at the Founding Fathers in the United States and other leaders who brought freedom the Americas, and asks how the liberation narrative might play a role in meeting today’s challenges. 303-571-4401 or museo.org.

“You Are Here,”July 9-Aug. 20, Plus Gallery, 2501 Larimer St. Showcased will be five top talents from Canada’s little- recognized contemporary art scene — Alex McLeod, Luke Painter, Andrew Rucklidge, Brendan Tang and Douglas Walker. 303-296-0927 or plusgallery.com.

“Do Not Cry Over Spilled Dreams,” July 9-Aug. 14, Sandra Phillips Gallery, 744 Santa Fe Drive. Exploring notions of recycling and regeneration, Ecuadoran artist Patricia Tinajero will create an installation of milk cartons, newspapers and paper made from scraps of denim and linen. 303- 573-5969 or thesandraphillipsgallery.com.

Three more shows worth checking out

“Works in Passage,”through Aug. 6, Steele Gallery, Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, 1600 Pierce St., and through June 18, Emmanuel Gallery, Auraria campus. This joint exhibition will spotlight Italian artist Maria Cristina Carlini’s powerful, monumental sculptures. RMCAD, 303-225-8575 or rmcad.edu and Emmanuel, 303-556-8337 or emmanuelgallery.org.

“Colorado & the West,” through June 30, David Cook Fine Art, 1637 Wazee St. This annual exhibition provides viewers a reliably high-quality look at 19th- and 20th-century art from across the West and Southwest. 303-623-8181 or davidcookfineart.com.

“Mix: CVA + The Art District on Santa Fe,” Thursday-July 3, Center for Visual Art, 965 Santa Fe Drive. Metropolitan State College of Denver’s Center for Visual Art reopens in its new $1.5 million space. 303- 294-5207 or metrostatecva.org

-Kyle MacMillan: 303-954-1675 or [email protected]