Call Detail
Denver Zoo
Entry Deadline: 4/5/24
Application Closed
Work Sample Requirements
Images | Minimum:Min. 6, Maximum:Max. 6
Audio | Minimum:Min. 0, Maximum:Max. 1
Video | Minimum:Min. 0, Maximum:Max. 1
Total Samples | Minimum:Min. 6, Maximum:Max. 8
Call Type: Public Art
Eligibility: National
State: Colorado
Budget: $184,000


Public Art Project
Denver Zoo - Guest Experience Hub
Budget: Approximately $184,000.00 USD
Eligibility: Artists or Artist Teams residing in the United States
DEADLINE: Friday, April 5, 2024, 11:59 P.M. MST
En español


The City of Denver's Public Art Program seeks to commission an artist or artist team to create original public artwork(s) for the Denver Zoo, located in Denver, CO. The goals of the commission are to create artwork for the Denver Zoo’s new “Guest Experience Hub” that celebrates the Zoo as a place of curiosity, gathering, discovery, and inclusivity. An 11-member selection panel of community representatives, arts and design professionals, and civic leaders has been assembled to identify art opportunities and to select and recommend an artist or artist team for this project. The selection panel has identified a 1500 square-foot outdoor garden plaza inside the future Guest Experience Hub for potential art opportunities, and will select one artist or artist team for the allocated total budget of approximately $184,000.00 USD.

Denver Public Art is hosting a virtual pre-application meeting on March 12, 2024 at 5:30 p.m. for interested applicants. The meeting will cover project background and goals, and the application process for this Request for Qualifications (RFQ). Attendees will also receive information on through which artists may apply. This event will be hosted on Zoom. Interested applicants are asked to register to get information on how to join prior to the event. If you cannot attend, a recording will be available on the Denver Arts & Venues Vimeo channel.

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that the land Denver’s Public Art Collection occupies - - land where we stand, live, work and learn - - is the traditional territory of the Ute, Cheyenne and Arapaho Peoples. We also recognize the 48 contemporary tribal nations that are historically tied to the lands that make up the state of Colorado. Our nation was founded upon and continues to enact exclusions and erasures of Indigenous Peoples. May this acknowledgement demonstrate a commitment to dismantling ongoing legacies of oppression and inequities, as we intentionally honor and celebrate the Indigenous communities in our city and express our gratitude for their ongoing and significant contributions. Let’s not forget that this land was theirs long before we made it ours.

The Denver Zoo and Artwork Location

The Denver Zoo has been in operation for 127 years. It is currently a 501c3 non-profit that serves nearly 2 million people per year, with a daily average attendance of 4,000. The 84-acre campus houses more than 3,000 animals, and focuses heavily on education and conservation of endangered species.

Goals, Site, Media & Materials

The selection panel members have set forth specific goals for this project with the hope of creating unique public artwork for the Denver Zoo.   


·  The panel is invested in commissioning an artwork that is inclusive, accessible and welcoming to all. The artwork should be accessible to visitors of all abilities, with strong consideration for young children with disabilities.

·   The panel is interested in artwork(s) that have an experiential or sensory element such as kinetic movement, sound, smell, tactile elements, etc.

·    Artists are encouraged to consider Colorado – the plants, topography, history, and Colorado’s uniqueness as a place – when submitting proposals.


The public artwork will be situated in a future gathering place or “experience hub” inside the Denver Zoo. The hub will include an event space (250 seats), retail outlets, an experiential stage, a container kitchen and food outlets. It will be located at the halfway point of the Zoo’s footprint, and is intended to offer guests a place to stop, rest, gather, eat and drink. The future artwork(s) will be situated in a 1500 square-foot garden plaza.

Media & Materials:
The selection panel is open to artwork in all media and materials suitable for outdoor display. Durability and ease of maintenance is important at this location.


Maintenance & Durability

This artwork will become a permanent addition to the Denver Public Art collection. All applicants must consider the issues of long-term conservation and maintenance of public art, along with time and budget. These projects are in the public realm and will be exposed to physical stresses, as well as be subject to vandalism. Public art projects should be fabricated of highly durable, low-maintenance materials. Finalists are encouraged to consult with a professional conservator prior to the submission of a final proposal. Artist proposals awarded contracts will be reviewed by the City of Denver’s Public Art Committee to ensure conformity with city standards of maintenance and durability, as well as Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. All finalists are expected to stay on budget and to complete work in an approved timeframe.

Applying for these opportunities

In response to this RFQ, applicants will be asked to submit the following items via

1.       Six digital images of past work

2.       Résumé

3.       Statement of interest no longer than 2,000 characters

From these applications, the selection panel will choose three to five finalists who will create site-specific proposals and be interviewed in-person or virtually. Artists will be paid an honorarium for this work. Artists/teams selected as finalists will be required to submit a Diversity & Inclusiveness Form for their proposals to be considered, which will be provided upon notification. As directed by Executive Order 101, this form must be submitted for all city solicitations of proposals. Denver Arts & Venues Public Art Program staff can guide you in filling out this form.

Based on the interview and proposal, an artist or artist team will be selected for this commission.  The selected artist or artist team will work with the Public Art Program staff and Denver Zoo staff when finalizing their designs for installation.


The budget for this commission is $184,000.00 USD which will be allocated to the artist/team selected. These funds come from the City of Denver’s 1% Percent for Public Art Ordinance resulting from new construction of the Denver Zoo’s animal hospital. This contract amount is inclusive of all costs associated with the project including, but not limited to: the artist's design fee, other consultation fees such as structural engineering consultation, insurance (including Colorado Workers Compensation), tools, materials, fabrication, transportation, installation, any building or site modification required, travel to and from the site, per diem expenses, project documentation, a contingency to cover unexpected expenses, and any other costs. For all work performed on city property, prevailing wage requirements will be applied.


(Except for the online application deadline, the timeline is subject to adjustments)

Friday, April 5, 2024 11:59 P.M. MST                             Deadline for entry (via CaFÉ™ system)

May 2024                                                                       Finalist Selection

July 2024                                                                        Artist Selection and Notification


Project Selection Panel

According to Denver's Public Art Policy, the art selection panel plays an active role in the acquisition of public art for Denver. The Denver Zoo art selection panel is comprised of 11 voting members and additional non-voting advisors. The selection panel is responsible for reviewing the site, establishing criteria for a request for qualifications, reviewing applications, selecting, and interviewing finalists, and finally for selecting an artist or artist team for the commission. 

Selection Process

1.   Three to five artists/artist teams will be selected as finalists. Those selected will receive more specific information regarding the sites and have the opportunity to meet with community members from the selection panel, Denver Public Art staff and Denver Zoo staff. The finalists will receive an honorarium to prepare a proposal and present it in person or virtually.

2.   The selection panel will review the proposals, interview the finalists and recommend an artist/artist team for the commission.

3.   The final recommendation of the selection panel will be presented to the Public Art Committee, the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs and the mayor of Denver for final approval.

*All decisions of the City and County of Denver are final.

Application Requirements

Materials to be Submitted

Please read this section carefully. Incomplete applications will NOT be considered. The applicant's name must appear on all materials submitted.

All materials must be submitted online, via the CaFÉ™ website ( There is no application fee to apply or to use the CaFÉ™ online application system.

Digital ImagesTo be considered for this project, the applicant must electronically submit six digital images of previously completed artworks through the online CaFÉ™ system. Artists who wish to submit kinetic, sound or media works must submit a complete CaFÉ™ application and will have the opportunity to upload one video file.

IMPORTANT: if submitting audio or video files, do not use them as your very first image. They must be submitted last in your image sequence.

Instructions on how to format images to CaFÉ™ specifications can be found at Assistance in using the CaFÉ™ system is available here:

If an artist does not have access to a computer, s/he/they may call (720) 515-5768 to make arrangements to use a computer at Denver Arts & Venues.

To request this RFQ in an alternate format (such as Braille, large print, or accessible electronic format) please contact


Statement of InterestPlease submit a statement (2,000 character maximum) outlining the following:

·     Your interest in the Denver Zoo public art project

·     Your interest in or relationship to themes of inclusivity, accessibility, curiosity/discovery, and Colorado local history and conservation

·     Your design approach, and experience working on public art projects

·      Please also include information on your experience working with diverse communities and stakeholders, and/or designing or creating accessible public artworks

RésuméSubmit a one to two-page current résumé via CaFÉ™ that highlights your professional accomplishments as an artist. Please name your résumé file accordingly: Last name. First initial (i.e. Smith.J.pdf).  Résumés that are more than two pages will not be downloaded. If applying as a team, please submit one résumé with no more than one page per team member.

SurveyApplicants will also be required to fill out a short demographic survey that will be part of the CaFÉ™ application.

References – Applicants who are selected to be finalists will be required to provide three professional references.

Please direct all questions about the project to:

Hannah Leathers, Public Art Program Administrator,, (720) 515-5768

Eligibility Criteria

Who May Apply

This project is open to artists or artist teams residing in the United States. Denver Arts & Venues is committed to building a public art collection that represents a broad diversity of artists and encourages applicants from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities, including artists who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latino/x, People of Color (BILPOC), people with disabilities, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersexual, asexual, Two-Spirit+ (LGBTQIA2S+) communities. Denver Arts & Venues also encourages applicants at various stages in their career and applicants practicing a variety of artistic disciplines.

Can a team apply?

Applicants may apply as a single artist or multi-person collaborative group. If applying as a team, please submit one résumé for the team, with no more than one page per team member. 

Diversity and Inclusiveness

Denver Executive Order No. 101 establishes strategies between the City and private industry to use diversity and inclusiveness to promote economic development in the City and County of Denver and to encourage more businesses to compete for City contracts and procurements. The Executive Order requires, among other things, the collection of certain information regarding the practices of the City’s contractors and consultants toward diversity and inclusiveness and encourages/requires City agencies to include diversity and inclusiveness policies in selection criteria in solicitations for City services or goods when legally permitted. Diversity and Inclusiveness means inviting values, perspectives and contributions of people from diverse backgrounds, and integrating diversity into hiring and retention policies, training opportunities and business development methods to provide an equal opportunity for each person to participate, contribute and succeed within the organization’s workplace. “Diversity” encompasses a wide variety of human differences, including differences such as race, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, physical disabilities, appearance, and historically underutilized and disadvantaged persons, as well as social identities such as religion, marital status, socio-economic status, lifestyle, education, parental status, geographic background, language ability and veteran status.

Denver Arts & Venues complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, gender, or language. It is your right to request oral or written language assistance services in your primary language, if needed. Please contact Denver Arts & Venues at and these services will be provided to you free of charge.

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