What the heck is this Octopus Initiative thing?

It’s a long story, but basically, we like art. We like it a lot. We believe art has the power to inspire, challenge, and enrich our lives. And, we like artists. We believe that cultivating the artistic community of Denver is vital for our city. And, we love the people of Denver. Yeah, we’re talking about you. So, we created this thing called the Octopus Initiative, which places art in the hands of many, reaches out to the community with welcoming arms, and gives any Denver metro area resident a chance to live with a work of contemporary art, made by a Denver artist, for ten months.

Oh I kind of get it, but can you tell me a little more?

Yeah, think of it as a library, but instead of checking out books, you enter a lottery for the chance to check out a work of art for several months. And, it’s not just any art. It’s art we’ve commissioned from Denver’s leading artists.

Our goal is to demonstrate a commitment to Denver artists by supporting them with commissions, while also deepening the connection between Denver audiences and the art and the artists working in their city. In addition to their commission fee, these artists also receive a stipend to support their studio and material costs.

Am I eligible?

MCA Denver is offering this program to residents of the Denver metro area. This includes the following 6 counties: Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson. If your zip code is ineligible, our website will let you know. You must be 13 years of age or older to register, and anyone under the age of 18 must come accompanied by a guardian to collect a work of art.

What does it cost?

It’s FREE for the borrower!

What’s the art like?

Each artwork is unique, but they are all two-dimensional works under the size of 16 x 20 inches. Each work is framed and comes with a customized carrying case to make it easy for the borrower to pick it up from the museum and transport home.

What's in the box? 

We made this carrying case especially for you! It fits your artwork exactly and is the safest way to transport the art. Please hold on to this box for the duration of the loan and be prepared to return the artwork in it as well!

Do I have to come to the museum to participate?

You can participate and enter the lottery from anywhere with an internet-connected device. However, you must visit the museum in person to collect a work if you win.

How do I register?

You can register here!

All you need to provide is your email address and zip code in order to start favoriting works.

How do I know if I win?

The Octopus Initiative will send you a message at your registered email address and let you know that you have won, as well as how you can collect your work of art.

How many works of art can I favorite?

You may favorite as many artworks as you like! When you favorite a work, your name will be submitted to the lottery for that work of art. You can only win one artwork at a time and if you currently have an artwork on loan, your favorites will be logged but not submitted for the current lottery. You will be eligible to win another work of art as soon as you return your current one.

Can I be an Octopus artist?

The Octopus Initiative is overseen by MCA Denver’s curatorial team. The curators work with leaders in the Denver art community who nominate artists for consideration. Curators then conduct studio visits and review artists’ work. The evaluative process is a rigorous one. This is not a juried selection or a submission-based process.  

How does the lottery work?

There is an individual lottery for each work of art. If you favorite a work, you are automatically entered into the lottery for it. Our amazing, technically-advanced algorithm works its magic and selects winners for each available artwork. Lotteries occur once a month, on the 15th of each month. Newly available works of art will be posted on the 15th, enabling you to favorite and enter another lottery at that time.

This is the coolest thing ever, how do I spread the word?

Use our hashtag #LIVEWITHOCTOPI on social media and tell your friends to register on our site, so they can enter the lottery too!

I am a winner, what do I do now?

Congratulations! Your artwork is ready and waiting for you at the museum. Instructions on how to contact Krista Lauer, the Octopus Initiative administrator, to set up a collection date and time will be provided in your notification email. Krista will have further instructions and info for your loan and return at the time of collection.

I missed out this month, what do I do now?

If you did not win a lottery this time, don’t worry! Head over to the website or to the museum to check out all the new works available. We have built the lottery to increase your likelihood of winning so, the more you participate, the more likely you are to win. Keep your favorites fresh!

Who designed the library?

The library was designed by Hunter Leggitt and his company Hunter Leggitt Studio, a local design firm.


What about the framing?

We are excited to partner with Simply Framed, an online framing company, whose operations staff is based in Denver. Check them out here.  

Who designed the website?

We worked with amazing team at Aten Design Group to make this website. They are local to Denver and you can check out more of their work here. 

How do I hang my artwork?

We have simple instructions included inside each work of art’s carrying case. You can also reference that info here.

Can I buy an artwork?

Artworks are not available for sale. The Octopus Initiative is an art lending library and our inventory is always available to the public. If you are interested in any of these artists’ work, please visit the artists’ pages on this website, so that you may get in touch with them directly.

How do I collect and transport my artwork?

The Octopus Initiative occupies a dedicated space in the museum. When your work is ready for pickup, a collection date and time will be arranged with the program administrator for you to collect your work. The Octopus Initiative administrator will have your artwork ready in a customized carrying case that includes hanging instructions. Please keep your carrying case as it is custom made for your artwork and is the safest way to transport your art.

How do I care for my artwork?                 

Use a clean, soft, lint-free cloth to wipe. Remove dust by blowing on it.                    

DO NOT use your hand or a dry cloth to remove dust.

DO NOT use Windex or products that contain ammonia.

DO NOT use abrasive material while cleaning the plexiglas frame as that can scratch the surface.

For how long can I borrow my artwork?

Each loan period lasts 10 months and begins on the day of collection.

What happens if I am late to return?

There is a 4-week grace period after your return date (noted on the loan agreement). After that grace period your credit card will be charged $500. That charge will be credited back to your account as soon as the artwork is returned.

What do I do if the artwork gets damaged?

As the borrower, you must take care to prevent damage to the artwork during the loan period. This includes installing the artwork immediately upon picking it up and using recommended hardware and tools (provided in each carrying case). The artwork must be placed directly on a wall that is at least 20 feet from any fire, heat or humidity source. The artwork must be installed indoors at all times. Smoking around the artwork is prohibited.

You may not unframe, unglaze, remove from mats, or otherwise alter the artwork at any time. In the event of damage please get in touch with the Octopus Initiative administrator as soon as possible to assess the severity.  To report damage, please reach out to Krista Lauer at kristal@mcadenver.org or call her at 720.236.1831.