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Cynthia Madden Leitner

Founder & Executive Director

Cynthia Madden Leitner co-founded the Museum of Outdoor Arts (MOA) with her parents, Colorado developer John W. Madden, Jr. and his wife Marjorie Madden in 1982.  Designed as a “museum without walls”, MOA’s original mission followed the definition by integrating the arts into commercial landscapes and architecture to create synergistic environments for everyday living. Beginning with a donated outdoor collection of 12 sculptures placed in Greenwood Plaza, the collection now has over 85 artworks installed throughout the Denver Metro area. In 1995 The Colorado Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts was awarded to Cynthia for the realization of MOA’s unique vision.

Cynthia Madden Leitner has curated over 200 exhibitions for the Museum of Outdoor Arts and more than 20 exhibitions for other arts organizations during her over 40-year tenure as President and Executive Director. She has worked with local, national, and international artists. Some more well known artists that she has worked with in her career include: Arnaldo Pomodoro, Henry Moore, Robert Rauschenberg / Darryl Pottorf, George Rickey, Lin Emery, Jesus Morales, Nick Bantock, Harry Marinsky, Robert Mangold, Patrick Dougherty, Daniel Sprick, and Claudy Jongstra, just to name a few. In 1999 Cynthia Madden Leitner co-curated A View from Denver with the Denver Art Museum for the White House Rose Garden. Among the Museum’s publications are Portrait of a Museum and Secret Rooms; the films “Palazzo Verdi” and “Sacred Water at Burning Man” both aired on PBS. Cynthia has also spearheaded monumental projects such as creating Design and Build, a renowned education internship for emerging artists, building Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre (FGA) from an earth sculpture into the largest outdoor live music venue in Colorado, and spearheading the creation of Element House, an off-the-grid home near the site of Charles Ross’ Star Axis.

Among civic activities, Cynthia Madden Leitner has served on the PLACE advisory board, the Greenwood Village Arts and Humanities Council, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver advisory committee, and several public art selection committees. She has also served on the board of the International Sculpture Center, is an Honorary Trustee of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado, and a founding member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. Cynthia has also been selected for the Denver Mayor’s Commission of Arts, Culture and Film, the Denver Foundation’s Arts and Culture Committee, the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, and the Advisory Committee for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver.

Cynthia and the Museum of Outdoor Arts have been honored with the following awards: Distinguished Contributions to Women in the Arts – Colorado Committee for the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1991; Museum Art Educator of the Year – 1993; Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts – 1995; Englewood Builder Award – 2004; Mayor Hickenlooper’s Proclamation for Design and Build Day – 2004; Element House designs and film accessioned by MoMA NY – 2014; AIA New York Design Award issued to MOS Architects for MOA’s Element House – 2015;  Architecture Design Award issued to MOS Architects for work including MOA’s Element House – 2015; Governor Hickenlooper’s Proclamation for Design and Build Day – 2016.

Read more about the founding of MOA.


Cynthia Madden Leitner