Experience a World of Art Close to Downtown Denver
Americans for the Arts recently spent a long weekend in Denver, Colorado, for our 2018 Annual Convention and were completely awed by what an artistic city it is! To that end, we wanted to give our local hosts from VISIT DENVER the chance to share more about the variety of arts & culture Denver has to offer. Read on!
Denver delights visitors with its world-class art scene. Best of all, from bold architecture to eclectic collections, much of it can be experienced in one vibrant neighborhood.
Begin your personal art tour by making a short walk (or a quick hop on the free 16th Street MallRide shuttle) from downtown Denver to the Golden Triangle Creative District, home to some of the city’s finest museums. Surrounding the neighborhood are more than 50 galleries, fine-art studios, restaurants, nightclubs, coffeehouses and bistros to round out a full day.
Here’s a rundown of the highlights:
Denver Art Museum
When they say “you can’t miss it,” you really can’t. Denver Art Museum anchors the creative district. The Hamilton Building, designed by Daniel Libeskind, has become an international icon with its jagged angles inspired by the Rocky Mountains.
Near the entrance of the Hamilton Building, you’ll find sculptures like “Big Sweep,” a 30-foot-tall broom and dustpan by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The museum houses one of the largest collections of American Western art featuring such masters as Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, John Mix Stanley, and others. Denver Art Museum is also renowned for its American Indian and Western art collections as well as contemporary and traveling exhibitions like Dior: From Paris to the World (Nov. 19, 2018-March 3, 2019), which surveys House of Dior’s legacy and influence.
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art accomplished a monumental feat in 2016. When the museum outgrew its space, it found a new location down the street from Denver Art Museum, but it didn’t want to lose Vance Kirkland’s red brick art studio. Seeking to preserve history, the 150-ton building was raised and rolled to its new location. A gleaming golden structure, four times larger than the original space, was built around the studio.
In its signature salon style, the Kirkland Museum takes visitors on a chronological tour of Colorado art, from realism to pure abstraction, alongside furnishings from the museum’s vast collection of international furniture and decorative art. Three rooms in the old studio building are dedicated to Kirkland’s artistic evolution from watercolors to his famous large-scale “Dot Paintings.”
Clyfford Still Museum
The Clyfford Still Museum has earned international recognition for its collection of paintings, drawings and prints from Clyfford Still himself, an early leader of the Abstract Expressionism movement. The museum boasts more than 3,000 works in its collection from Still’s lifetime output.
Still was honored in September 2016 along with Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning at a special show at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. It was the first comprehensive survey of these bold post-war artists in Europe in more than five decades.
Street Art and Other Museums
First Friday Art Walks are a great way to explore Denver’s creative neighborhoods. On the first Friday of each month, galleries, studios, and cultural attractions stay open late. Speaking of neighborhoods, Denver is also developing a strong following for its street art, particularly in the River North Art District. RiNo is home to the annual CRUSH, one of the largest street art festivals in the world.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver) has its own distinctive architecture and a famous sculpture, “Toxic Schizophrenia (Hyper Version),” mounted on a pole near the entrance. The giant heart by Tim Noble and Sue Webster is pierced by a dagger and covered with more than 1,000 lights that flash in a controlled sequence.