While most think of New York City or San Francisco as a cultural hub of top museums and shows, Denver, Colorado has quietly become its own epicenter for art, science, and architecture. Over the years with Denver’s rapid expansion and continued growth, local museums have upped their game with world-class exhibits.
They range from Christian Dior at the Denver Art Museum to the current Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. But where do you start? To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best museums in Denver, in no particular order.
1. Denver Art Museum
As the city’s largest museum, the Denver Art Museum offers plenty to look at inside as well as outside. With its multiple buildings including the castle-like structure of the North Building and the titanium “prow” that reaches across 13th Avenue, this is a building that is admired just as much from the outside as it is on the inside.
Over the years, the DAM has created a reputation for itself with its world-renowned temporary exhibits that have included; Dior: From Paris to the World, A Passion for Perfection: Degas, and upcoming exhibits such as The Truth of Nature: Monet. Plus with their exceptional permanent exhibits, a trip to the Denver Art Museum is a must during your visit to the Mile High City.
General admission is free the first Saturday of every month.
2. Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Greeted with a giant dinosaur skeleton in the main lobby, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science offers much more than what meets the eye. Gaining notoriety over the years for their sensational exhibits, the museum prides itself on offering a variety of shows that cover the blend between culture, nature, and science.
Past shows include the Dead Sea Scrolls and !CUBA!. Its latest blockbuster is the Leonardo Da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius. Aside from the rotating exhibitions, the museum presents multiple chances to learn more about space, the human body, and fossils. As an added bonus, visit their planetarium and IMAX theater (additional cost applies).
Free admission is offered on select SCFD community days.
3. Museum of Contemporary Art
Located in the trendy LoDo neighborhood, this small but mighty museum offers plenty for the art-admirer to ponder and observe. With continuously rotating exhibits, you never know what you might stumble upon at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Past exhibits include The Aftereffect, which contained original Georgia O’Keeffe paintings, Tattoo, an exhibit showcasing artwork created from tattoo machine and ink, plus the modern work of Tara Donovan who creates sculptures and artwork from ordinary everyday life, such as post-it notes and slinky toys. Cap your visit off with a visit to the rooftop cafe. Hardly crowded and with incredible views, it’s the best way to take in art and all of what Denver has to offer.
The first Saturday of every month is free for Colorado residents. You must present your I.D. at the door.
4. Clyfford Still Museum
The modern, unassuming building of the Clyfford Still Museum, located next to the Denver Art Museum in the Golden Triangle Creative District, offers a glimpse into the life and work of Still. Amongst the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, Still was given claim as the one who laid the groundwork for the Expressionist movement.
From his beginning sketches to his large-format paintings, art-lovers can walk through his creative progression and appreciate the contributions Still made to this important artistic movement.
Visit Friday evenings from 5 PM to 8 PM and enjoy a $5 entrance fee.
5. Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum
Occupying the original airplane hangers of the former Lowry Air Force Base, this unique museum highlights the history of aviation and space exploration. This larger-than-life museum offers visitors a chance to see aircraft, space, and rocketry exhibits that showcase the history of Lowry Air Force Base from 1938 – 1994. Immerse yourself in the experience with their flight simulators, perfect for the entire family to enjoy.
6. Molly Brown House Museum
Step back in time with a visit to the Molly Brown House Museum. Before she became known as the “unsinkable Molly Brown,” as a result of her surviving the sinking of the RMS Titanic, Margaret Brown was a well-known socialite and philanthropist who bought this house back in 1894. Saved from demolition in 1970, this historic house is a unique representation of Denver’s history, women’s suffrage, and philanthropy.
7. Forney Museum of Transportation
You don’t have to be a locomotive expert or car enthusiast to enjoy the Forney Museum of Transportation. Located in the hip and trendy RiNo district, the museum appeals to the masses with its showcase collection of buggies, motorcycles, cars, steam locomotives, and more. Historical pieces include Amelia Earhart’s gold buggy and a vintage Rolls-Royce.
8. History of Colorado Center
Located in the Golden Triangle neighborhood, the History of Colorado Center explores the people and places that make Colorado the fantastic state that it is. Unique exhibits include the current exhibit; Beer Here!, which touches on Colorado’s brewing past, present and future. Also encounter artifacts, art, and photographs that bring to life Denver’s history but also of the Rocky Mountains and American West.
Don’t just stop here! Discover all the museums Colorado has to offer during your time in the Centennial state.