10 intriguing museums in and around Denver: Beyond the new History Colorado Center
The still-new History Colorado Center showcases the old-fashioned and the ancient — artifacts and archives representing 1,200 years of regional human presence, ranging from American Indian tribes to the Denver Broncos Barrel Man.
The History Colorado Center joins a sprawling constellation of brilliant museums in and around Denver. And while it’s the newest kid on the block, it’s also a reminder of the many other intriguing offerings in the metro area.
So get your culture on at these 10 other museums showcasing nature, history and the arts:
FOOTHILLS ART CENTER
Best known for: Resurrecting an old church as a shrine to fine arts, the Foothills Art Center also includes a quirky outdoor sculpture garden. To boot: An extensive gift shop features Colorado artists.
Of note: The inviting museum- grounds neighbor Sherpa House and Cultural Center, a charming ethnic spot with authentic Himalayan cuisine — perfect for dinner or a sensational cup of chai after the museum.
Don’t miss: The current blockbuster exhibit of Chihuly Venetians. The glittering glass show is a big deal for this little museum. The famed Dale Chihuly’s team installed the spectacular exhibition of vases, chandeliers and putti. The show, perfectly lit, allows visitors to cozy up to the enchanting glassworks, though guards monitor the fragile, do-not-touch art.
Admission: Adults $10, seniors $8, students $5
Connect: 809 15th St., Golden, 303-279-3922, foothillsartcenter.org
DENVER ART MUSEUM
Best known for: The world-class Hamilton building designed by Daniel Libeskind as a titanium-clad, origami-like structure with virtually nary a right angle.
Of note: The DAM is enjoying a catwalk moment as the singular U.S. museum exhibiting “Yves Saint Laurant: A Retrospective.” The sumptuous fashions not only delight the eye but also reflect social mores over the last 40 years. Fashion begs for jewelry, so the current Madeleine Albright pin collection sparkles as a perfect accessory show.
Don’t miss: The Gio Ponti-designed North Building, another architectural jewel in the Queen City’s crown.
Admission: Colorado resident adults $8-$10, kids free-$3; Add $2 for non-Colorado residents. YSL exhibit requires an additional ticket.
Connect: 100 W. 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, denverartmuseum.org
CLYFFORD STILL MUSEUM
Best known for: Housing the long-cloistered works of an important American abstract expressionist: Clyfford Still.
Of note: Last fall, four of Still’s paintings sold for a total of $114 million. One canvas brought nearly $62 million. This museum includes a history of the artist, some personal effects and a vast array of his paintings, as well as drawings and sculptures.
Don’t miss: The museum’s outdoor spaces, including a placid garden. Open one of the gargantuan, second-floor doors and step onto terraces with painterly views of the foothills and the Mile High City.
Admission: Adults $10, students/seniors $6, youth (6-17) $3, 5 and under free
Connect: 1250 Bannock St., 720-354-4880, clyffordstillmuseum.org
MUSEUM OF OUTDOOR ARTS
Best known for: “Making art a part of everyday life,” the Museum of Outdoor Arts installs site-specific sculpture. MOA adds artful and playful panache to the southern suburbs with a range of works antique and contemporary.
Of note: Self-guided tour maps lead visitors on a treasure hunt to sculptures in Greenwood Village and Englewood.
Don’t miss: The indoor galleries at MOA’s headquarters in Englewood City Center. Current inside shows include “Sky on a String,” an uplifting exhibit of kites. The permanent installation “Cabinet of Curiosities” delights all ages with whimsical, vintage creations that tickle the imagination.
Connect: Englewood Civic Center, 1000 Englewood Pkwy., Second Floor, Englewood, 303-806-0444, moaonline.org
MUSEO DE LAS AMERICAS
Best known for: Celebrating Latin American art and culture, the collection at Museo de las Americas spans ancient Aztec to contemporary times.
Of note: Museo emphasizes educational workshops and hosts three exhibits per year of Latino artwork.
Don’t miss: Spanish Happy Hour the third Friday of every month. Each month features a different event, including cultural cooking, music or dancing. The fiesta encourages interaction while speaking Spanish at any level. Cost is $5.
Admission: Adults $5, students/seniors $3, children under 13 free.
Connect: 861 Santa Fe Drive, 303-571-4401, museo.org
RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATRE & VISITOR CENTER
Best known for: This is the site of the legendary natural amphitheater boasting awesome acoustics and otherworldly scenery.
Of note: Red Rocks ranks as a favorite venue for musicians and fans worldwide.
Don’t miss: The visitor center’s collage of show bills, music memorabilia, video presentations of past performances and the on-the-rocks concert timeline that includes the likes of the Beatles, Sting and other rock stars of the first magnitude.
Connect: 18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison, 720-865-2494, redrocksonline.com
MOLLY BROWN HOUSE
Best known for: This is the fully restored Victorian home of Denver’s favorite hometown heroine, the “Unsinkable Molly Brown,” a feisty Titanic survivor.
Of note: The lavish Capitol Hill house functioned in various eras as the Governor’s Mansion, a gentleman’s boarding house and a home for “wayward” girls.
Don’t miss: Titanic Tours with historic accounts of Lifeboat No. 6. The recent centennial of the infamous ship’s sinking lends poignant appeal to Titanic Tours, which require advance reservations.
Admission: Adult $10, senior/military $8, children (6-12) $6
Connect: 1340 Pennsylvania St., 303-832-4092, mollybrown.org
FORNEY MUSEUM OF TRANSPORTATION
Best known for: Home of a comprehensive collection of mechanisms for getting from here to there, the Forney Museum includes trains, planes, boats, cars, bicycles, motorcycles with sidecars, horse-drawn carriages — transportation for every phase from baby carriage to hearse.
Of note: The extensive Corvette collection and other stylin’ street cars will entertain most males. Period fashions on mannequins will distract the females who aren’t so turned on by all the wheels. A fun museum for kids, but it’s not a playground.
Don’t miss: A 1923 Kissel Speedster, a yellow beauty that belonged to aviator Amelia Earhart
Admission: Adults $8, seniors $6, children (3-15) $4, children under 3 free
Connect: 4303 Brighton Blvd., 303-297-1113, forneymuseum.org
MORRISON NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
Best known for: Locally sourced dinosaur fossils; the museum’s tagline is “Small Museum: Big Discoveries.”
Of note: Dinosaur tracks and bones put Morrison on the paleontologic map. Housed in a rustic cabin, the museum sits smack dab in the middle of one of the world’s riches sites for rare, ancient fossils. The museum includes the Time Garden, a fossil dig pit for kids and a time trail geology hike.
Don’t miss: The lab, where museum crews work on a fossil known as Kevin. The lab also includes a skull fossil from a 300 million-year-old dimetrodon — creatures older than dinosaurs. Try wrapping your mind around that timeline.
Admission: $7 adults
Connect: 501 Colorado 8, Morrison, 303-697-1873, mnhm.org
DENVER MUSEUM OF MINIATURES, DOLLS AND TOYS
Best known for: The Someday House, a miniature replica of the Denver house in which Mrs. Bets O’Meara (of O’Meara Ford) grew up.
Of note: O’Meara collected miniature paintings and commissioned replicas of family heirlooms for the painstakingly detailed dollhouse.
Don’t miss: Chuck’s Circus, made by a former circus performer. The circus includes a big top with tiny animals, vehicles, more than 4,000 hand-painted people and a freak show.
Admission: Seniors $5, adults $6, children (5-16) $4, younger than 5 free
Connect: 1880 Gaylord St., 303-322-1053, dmmdt.org