You can really get a sense of a city's personality from its art scene. Maybe a community is loaded with street art. Or perhaps it boasts loads of world-renowned museums. Or a city could express its art through music, theater, architecture, food, or one of a million other ways. And of course, there are cities that have a little bit of everything. Like Denver. Whether you dig gorgeous old historic buildings and collections of masterpieces by famous figures, or you're in the mood to check out thought-provoking art from an auteur whose name you've never heard, The Mile High City has something that will pique your interest. Here's an art crawl across town that shows all of Denver's creative sides.
Since 1996, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Denver has entertained the masses with culture-filled exhibits that are constantly keeping fans of art on their toes. Featuring contemporary pieces in a communal spot showcased here in a communal space for all ages, and the museum welcomes funky and formal artists alike. The museum is free for those 18 and under, and offers many programs and exhibits geared towards teenagers. MCA has a cafe and bar on the rooftop, with delicious food for both lunch and dinner, as well as a full coffee menu and cocktail list. And let's not forget that you'll be dining or snacking with some killer views of the city right in front of you. An hour or two checking out alternative artists, modern art, and interactive exhibits will excite anyone either in the art scene or simply wanting to be inspired by something fresh and new.
In an edgy micro district called the Dairy Block, The Maven Hotel is truly something you've never experienced. This independent hotel is in the midst of some great shops and restaurants, and features hundreds of pieces of Colorado-made art...right. in. the. hotel. You'll see incredible works as soon as you step in the lobby, as you walk to the elevators, and even in certain suites. The rooms, and amenities such as the fitness center, are enough to keep visitors returning again and again, but The Maven goes above and beyond to give the extra oomph you need to really fall in love with the city of Denver. Huckleberry, the coffee shop right inside, will get your morning started right. For Southwestern-inspired dishes any time of day, Kachina Cantina has you covered. Needing a nightcap or a hip cocktail lounge with a vintage feel? Poka Lola Social Club has a soda fountain feel with a nightlife atmosphere, all right there in your hotel.
Whether you're a fan of jazz music, looking to get into jazz but not sure where to experience it, or just interested in doing something fun and new while in Denver, Nocturne is right up your alley. The supper club presents diners with live music every Tuesday-Saturday, with late-night sessions on weekends, and offers plates and tasting menus of all kinds to enjoy while you take in the smooth sounds of jazz. The Nocturne experience is unique in that it showcases musicians from everywhere, but additionally focuses on an artist taking an eight-week residency there. Be sure to check out the monthly calendar for the various performances taking place on any given night. Nocturne is perfect for a date night away from the kids, or a night of wine and jazz with friends. Whatever your reason may be, this place is the bee's knees for a great escapade that will be a highlight of your time in Denver.
When walking around Denver, it's easy to notice that the city is alive with art of all kinds. Street art is a big part of what makes that so evident, and the Love This City Mural, created originally for the 10th anniversary of Denver Arts Week, is no different. A group of four artists called the So-Gnar Creative Division painted a great number of murals that can be found around Denver, but Love This City is by far the most popular. The Denver Graffiti Tour, recommended for lovers of street art or for getting a first-hand guide of Denver, begins at this very mural. The bright colors and simple message attract photographers, tourists, and adventurers of all ages. The artists who created the Love This City Mural have a passion for all things Denver, and take joy from seeing everyday people experiencing the happiness their art brings. Stop by to take in the magic for yourself.
Since 2008, RedLine has been a contemporary arts center that supports local artists and brings community members together. A two-year residency program helps up-and-coming artists reach their potential, and provides a space in Denver for education and appreciation of all things art. RedLine also serves as a one-of-a-kind event space. The programs put on in this awesome space are constantly changing, and both kids and adults will enjoy experiencing art first hand. The center is closed Mondays, and open throughout the week until 5 PM, so plan accordingly.
Whether you're into art or not, you won't be able to escape running into the gigantic blue bear in the center of the city. The Blue Bear stands 40 feet tall, and stares into the Colorado Convention Center. The statue was built in 2005 by Lawrence Argent and quickly became an icon. Although the fiberglass figure is known around as simply "the blue bear," the artist formally gave it the name "I See What You Mean." The name hints at the wide array of ideas and happenings inside the convention center. Whether you're meeting at the convention center for a tour or event, driving by, or just walking about town, The Blue Bear will entice you to snap a photo, get up close, or walk inside and experience it from all angles. The Blue Bear is a treasured part of the Denver community, and will continue to draw visitors for years to come.
Get out of the summer heat, stroll in on a rainy day, or simply plan an unforgettable afternoon at the Denver Art Museum to get the full art experience in The Mile High City. From African art and architecture to textile and fashion, the museum has an extremely wide variety of attractive exhibits and pieces that any artist or passerby can enjoy. This is among the top-visited museums in the country, and collections change throughout the year, so the Denver Art Museum is a real treat at any time. A cafe right in the building even provides coffee and snacks. The museum is open daily, free for those 18 and younger, and free to all on the first Saturday of every month, so be sure to take advantage! Your time in the city won't be wasted here, and the museum’s location near so many attractions (such as the 16th Street Mall) makes the trip that much more worth it!
Everyone knows the story of the Titanic and its unfortunate fate, but it's not every day that you can experience a little piece of history so up close and personal. Molly Brown, known to many as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown", was an American activist whose claim to fame was the fact that she survived the sinking Titanic... and fought to turn her lifeboat around to go back and save those in the water. First built by wealthy silver miners in the 1880s, then sold to Molly and her husband before the turn of the century, her home was rented out to wealthy families while Molly was traveling. Rich in Denver history, the house was preserved and restored to its 1910 appearance in 1970, and has since become a popular destination for a look into the past. Upon arrival, a guided tour will give a glimpse into what Denver once was, as well as give insight into an incredible woman who influenced not only the city, but the country as a whole.
Clyfford Still was a post-WWII painter and a prominent figure in the Abstract Expressionism movement that is still popular. Still's colleagues included Jackson Pollock and many other famous artists who put their own spins on the movement. Nine galleries allow those visiting a full experience of this amazing artist's life, and even include letters, sculptures, and timelines of his life. The Clyfford Still Museum has been open to the public since 2011, and contains 95% of the popular painter's output before his death in 1980. A trip to this location is a definite must for anyone interested in art history. A tour is offered for those wanting a guided waltz through an influential artist's time spent doing what he loved.
The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, named after the distinguished Colorado painter Vance Kirkland, has all kinds of art from many major design periods on display. Located near the Clyfford Still Museum and Denver Art Museum, this new building was recently finished to accommodate the museum’s ever-growing and magnificent art display. The museum has three amazing collections that contain international decorative art, original works from Vance Kirkland himself, works from his first studio, and additional works from artists in the Colorado area. No matter what your art design preference may be, this beautiful museum has something on display for you. Group reservations may be scheduled ahead of time to ensure you are able to see this awe-inspiring collection.
Museum after museum, endless views of street art and graffiti, and unique findings around the city make for a creative and inspired trip to Denver. Whether you're staying right in the city, passing through, or live in the beautiful state of Colorado, you'll never be bored when it comes to discovering new and historical art in The Mile High City.
Banner Photo Credit: Flickr/Steven Gerner
Denver, Colorado is an outdoor city offering urban adventures for all ages. Experience live music at Red Rocks, explore diverse neighborhoods and discover The Mile High City’s creative side in arts & culture, cuisine and craft beer. Or take a Rocky Mountain day trip within easy reach of the city.