Cosmopolitan and culturally fecund, Denver is the perfect place to soak up a bit of culture and add an educational element to your visit. The city offers up a wide array of museums, with collections of both modern and western art, and a good dollop of history that gives insight into the identity of the city you find today. Here is a guide to the museums we think are worth a visit, even if it’s only fleeting.
DENVER ART MUSEUM
The Denver Art Museum is in itself an architectural work of art. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, it is also one of the largest art museums between the West Coast and Chicago. We love the constant turn-over of exhibits, which means whatever time of year you visit, you will find something new and exciting on offer – as well as a variety of international art that is displayed throughout the year. The museum is known for its extensive collection of American Indian Art, and there are also two specialty stores in the museum and the Palettes Restaurant, which offers delicious sustenance. This is a must-visit for art lovers and even non-art lovers alike.
DENVER MUSEUM OF NATURE & SCIENCE
Undoubtedly one of the most popular museums in Denver, the Museum of Nature & Science houses more than one million objects from around the world. What’s more, there is an IMAX Cinema, planetarium and several popular permanent collections. A couple of our favorites include the Egyptian Mummies on level three and Expedition Health on level two, where visitors can measure their own physical fitness. Don’t miss the Gem & Minerals exhibit which features the famous “Tom’s Baby,” an eight-pound gold nugget found in Colorado in 1887. With so much to see and do here, you might need to schedule in a second visit.
MOLLY BROWN HOUSE MUSEUM
The former home of activist, socialist and philanthropist Margaret Brown, who famously survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic, The Molly Brown House Museum is located at 1340 Pennsylvania Street in Denver. She may be best known as the ‘Unsinkable Molly Brown’ (she even got a nod from Hollywood in the 1997 film), but exploring her former home will show that there was a lot more to her than this story. The house provides great tour guides, who will entertain you with a lot of history and fun facts. And if you are unaware of the impact Molly Brown had on women’s rights and the politics of her time, then you are in for a treat.
CLYFFORD STILL MUSEUM
We love something that stands out for being a little different, and in Denver that is the art collection at Clyfford Still Museum. Clyfford Still is widely known as one of the most inspiring and important artists of the 20th Century and among the first generations of Abstract Expressionists. The Museum provides visitors with the unique opportunity to appreciate his extraordinary life and work; with all of his art displayed in one collection. Located at 1250 Bannock Street next to the Denver Art Museum, this museum’s extraordinary collection of Still’s art, along with the unusual building it is housed in, makes for an unparalleled single-artist museum experience for both history and art lovers.
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART DENVER
MCA DENVER is an innovative forum for contemporary art that inspires and challenges all audiences, creating understanding and dialog about art of our time. MCA DENVER is housed in a new environmentally sustainable facility designed by David Adjaye located in downtown Denver on Delgany Street near Union Station. In addition to ever-changing art exhibitions, the museums rooftop café is a favorite spot for lunch or afternoon beverages with great view of the city.
KIRKLAND MUSEUM OF FINE & DECORATIVE ART
This spot — called “Denver’s most interesting museum” by the Denver Post — is housed in the former studio of one of Denver’s important painters, abstract expressionist Vance Kirkland (1904-1981). Kirkland lived and painted in the city for more than 50 years, creating a world-renowned body of work, and in the process becoming a bona fide Mile High City icon.
The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art is by no means the biggest art museum in Denver – but size isn’t everything. Virtually every inch of the walls and floors here are covered in eye-catching art and very cool mid-century modernist furnishings. The museum is filled to the brim with Colorado and regional art and more than 3,300 3,500 works of Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Glasgow Style, Wiener Werkstätte, De Stijl, Bauhaus, Art Deco, Modern, Pop Art and Postmodern.