Things to do in Denver

Museums in Denver

Denver’s museums let you experience fine art, psychedelic geometry, and everything in between. It’s an eye-opening, unmissable journey!

Welcome to Denver, where the breathtaking Rocky Mountains serve as a majestic backdrop to the twinkling city lights and bustling streets.

But skiing and hiking are the only things to do in Denver that you’ve experienced, you’re missing out on the city’s other wonders. With its diverse museums, Denver is also a place where intrepid learners and history buffs feel right at home.

Art Museums

Color your Denver trip with a visit to the city’s art museums. The collections at these beloved institutions paint an unforgettable picture of the region’s culture.

1. Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum was established in 1893 as the Denver Artists’ Club — a place to showcase the talent of local artists. Back then, the club hosted exhibitions in City Hall and other prominent sites throughout Denver.

It wasn’t until 1910 that it found a permanent home on the second floor of the Denver Public Library. Today, the museum offers a rich collection of art. It sets you on a journey of creativity spanning from Latin American history to African sculptures and jewelry.

Step foot into its vast halls, and you’ll see the intricate golden brush strokes that bring the Virgin Mary to life in the Virgin of the Victory of Málaga.

Uniquely, the Denver Art Museum is one of the few places where you can experience the wide-ranging styles of Native American art.

Its collection, which includes over 18,000 objects from 250 indigenous nations, celebrates both the old and the new.

As you view Puebloan ceramics and the carving traditions of the Tlingit, you’ll see how age-old traditions have evolved to influence contemporary art.

Photographer: Acton Crawford

2. Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

Modern art is surreal and subversive. It provokes careful introspection, encouraging you to explore how you perceive the world.

This thought-provoking artistry is something close to our own hearts. Our shows, too, are crafted to push the boundaries of your mind and leave you with a sense of wonder.

So, where better to go during your Rocky Mountain holiday than the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver? Founded in 1996, this ground-breaking museum in Denver celebrates experimental art styles rarely showcased elsewhere.

Whether you want to lose yourself to the rhythm of performance art or experience how your own personality influences the environment in the museum’s many interactive exhibits, there’s always plenty to see.

In fact, the museum’s collection rotates constantly, ensuring no two visits are ever the same.

Events at MCA Denver, also a unique highlight, provide many thrilling adventures. Want to learn to dance like a K-pop idol or perform magic tricks? Don’t miss Black Sheep Fridays.

History and Science Museums

Not all time-traveling adventures require a flux capacitor. If your DeLorean is in the shop, you can still experience the thrill of visiting ancient civilizations or exploring the mysteries of the cosmos at Denver’s museums.

3. History Colorado Center

Sleek, modern, and thought-provoking, the History Colorado Center offers a fun expedition through the events and traditions that have transformed Colorado into what it is today.

This history, dominated by Native American influences, cowboys, and the Gold Rush, shapes Denver’s culture and spirit.

Get lost in the immersion of the History Colorado Center’s interactive exhibits. Rather than just show you the past, the museum lets you experience it firsthand. Kids, especially, will enjoy field trips and camps where they can learn ancient crafts and geography.

While the museum’s exhibitions rotate frequently, regular experiences include a time machine that captures Colorado’s history and a realistic 1920s town families can explore together.

The Ute Indian Museum Exhibit also lets you immerse yourself in indigenous culture and lifestyles.

Photographer: mufbatz3000

4. Denver Museum of Nature & Science

If you gaze up at the stars, the glittering lights you see are just the beginning of what can be found in the cosmos.

There, deep in the black abyss, ravenous black holes gobble up matter, pulsars shoot out jets of blindingly intense light, and incredibly alien planets exist where winds blow up to 5,400 mph.

If you’re an avid amateur cosmologist, you shouldn’t skip a trip to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Learn about the technology that has made space exploration possible, narrated by the brilliant Neil deGrasse Tyson, or take a prehistoric journey back to the past.

How did the planet recover from the apocalyptic meteorite that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs? How do precious gems arise?

The museum’s vibrant exhibitions help answer many of life’s greatest questions, unfolding the mysteries of nature. There’s even a kid-friendly Discovery Zone for the littlest scientists to learn more about Earth’s wonders.

Photographer: Dan Dennis

Specialized Museums

If you’re looking for something a little different, Denver doesn’t disappoint. Take the road less traveled for a unique glimpse into aviation and one of the worst nautical tragedies in history.

5. Molly Brown House Museum

On a peaceful evening in 1912, just four days after departing on its maiden voyage, the Titanic grazed the side of an iceberg.

What was meant to be a joyous occasion for its illustrious passengers soon devolved into chaos as people scrambled to disembark on the few available lifeboats.

Denver’s Molly Brown witnessed these events herself and played an instrumental role in comforting other passengers and assisting with evacuation efforts.

This experience awakened something in the socialite, as she devoted the rest of her life to championing progressive causes.

The Molly Brown House Museum celebrates the life and story of Denver’s Unsinkable Molly Brown. While a presentation about the Titanic’s catastrophic sinking is one of this unique museum’s highlights, you’ll also experience programs that paint a detailed picture of Victorian times.

Discover the history that led to women earning the right to vote, and gaze upon some of the distinctive architecture of the era’s buildings.

The museum also explores the history of other famous people who were integral to Denver’s past — both heroes and villains.

6. Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum

Take to the skies by visiting one of Colorado’s most interesting museums. Housed in the former Lowry Air Force Base’s Hangar No.1, the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum immerses you in aviation history.

You’ll feel like a top gun preparing for your next mission.

The museum in Denver is home to 50 stunning aircraft, ranging from Boeing’s formidable B-52 bomber to Bell’s iconic "Huey" helicopter.

However, you needn’t be a fan of military aircraft to enjoy the exhibits because you’ll also get to see a lifelike recreation of the Star Wars X-Wing fighter. R2-D2 even sits ready to greet you as you prepare to destroy the Death Star.

Ever wondered what it would be like to fly a Cessna aircraft over the mountains? Well, the museum also has flight simulators.

Guided by museum volunteers, you’ll get to experience what it takes to pilot a plane or deal with rough crosswinds. You can even learn to maneuver a drone.

Explore the museum at your own pace, or join a group tour. Each hour-long guided tour is led by a museum docent with deep knowledge of the aircraft on display.

Family-Friendly Museums

For kids, entering a museum is like stepping into a storybook. There’s much for young minds to discover in Denver, so why not turn your next trip into a family learning excursion and stoke your children’s imaginations?

7. Children’s Museum of Denver

Bridge the gap between imagination and reality at the Children’s Museum of Denver. This interactive domain, purpose-built just for kids, allows children of all ages to learn about the environment, science, engineering, and even cooking.

Foster a love of animals, and help your little ones discover a potential career path. The museum’s Ready Vet Go exhibit lets children welcome stuffed animals to the clinic.

Then, they’re tasked with diagnosing their fluffy patients using pretend X-ray scans and nursing them back to good health.

Younger family members will also love the Kinetics! exhibit, which allows toddlers and children to discover how gravity works.

See the excitement on your little ones’ faces as orange balls rain from the sky, and watch as they learn to redirect their movement using ramps and tracks.

When you’re done exploring the exhibits, there are also events to keep the family occupied for the rest of the day. Highlights include indigenous storytelling, artist visits, and snow days.

8. Denver Firefighters Museum

Fire has a mesmerizing quality and an undeniable impact. However, fire can also be a terrifying force that causes untold destruction when allowed to burn out of control. The Denver Firefighters Museum is a testament to the heroes who have protected Colorado’s homes and businesses from this natural force for generations.

Located inside the old Fire Station No.1, the museum showcases the history of firefighting from the time of horse-drawn fire engines to the advent of motorized vehicles and other technological advances.

You’ll get to experience what the life of a firefighter was like throughout history and see all the artifacts and memorabilia up close.

The Denver Firefighters Museum also hosts family-friendly events with crafts and story time. Pick up some unique kitchenware and ornaments from the gift shop for the perfect way to commemorate your visit.

Unique and Lesser-Known Museums

Denver is also home to several eccentric museums offering unexpected takes on art and culture. These institutions defy conformity, making them perfect if you’re looking for a quirky way to end your Denver vacation.

9. Clyfford Still Museum

Sweeping through New York in the ‘40s and ‘50s, abstract expressionism was a brand-new style of art that refused to be constrained by social norms. We’re all about this kind of individualism, as was Clyfford Still.

Still never enjoyed the commercial side of art. Seeking to create something for the world to enjoy freely, he kept most of his work until his death in 1980, at which point he bequeathed the bulk of his paintings to any city willing to showcase his legacy permanently.

Holding 95% of the artist’s entire lifetime output, the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver is the best place to visit if you’re interested in his interpretation of abstract expressionism or the style in general.

You’ll get to see how his imagination translated onto the canvas and how his technique evolved over time.

Photographer: Steve Johnson

10. Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Have you ever wondered what it was like when movements such as art deco and postmodernism colored every aspect of life? Well, you don’t need to wonder if you visit the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.

The museum’s unique collections showcase artistic movements in the salon style — meaning you’ll see fine and decorative pieces displayed as if they were part of a real room in someone’s home.

This provides a wonderfully immersive experience, allowing you to move through time as you explore the various exhibits.

However, the building housing the museum is also a form of art, and there’s nothing else quite like it in Denver.

Designed by the legendary Jim Olson, the museum’s exterior features striking terracotta and glass bars, alternating to create an edgy facade that plays with light and shadow.

11. Meow Wolf

If you want to experience a museum in Denver that celebrates the eclectic and bizarre, you needn’t look any further than Meow Wolf.

Stepping inside the museum is like stepping into a kaleidoscope, surrounded by vibrant colors and geometry that shifts and flows in unexpected ways.

Another thing that makes this destination special is its immersive and interactive nature. Meow Wolf’s Convergence Station creates the illusion that you’re walking through a transit hub connecting alien worlds.

There, interdimensional travelers meet at the Quantum Department of Transportation, ready to visit new realities.

If you’re done exploring or looking for something to make your trip even more memorable, don’t miss the chance to listen to live music or join a workshop.

You can even participate in Buti Glow yoga, decked out in your favorite set of neon workout clothes.

Photographer:Dan Dennis

Denver’s Rich Museum Scene

From abstract art to dinosaurs, the museums of Denver let you explore interests in painting, science, history, and culture during your vacation to the Rocky Mountains.

But do you know what also lets you experience such diverse things? One of our unforgettable performances!

Visit one of our shows in Denver for the chance to see how we blend breathtaking acrobatics with colorful costumes and mesmerizing dance choreography. We’ll make sure you leave Denver thrilled and spellbound.

More articles about