7 Must-See Museums in Denver
Devote some time to these museums the next time you visit the Mile High City.
At the Denver Art Museum you can see one of the largest collections of Native American art in the world.(Getty Images)
From quirky and contemporary to traditional and historical, Denver's museum scene has something for nearly any interest. And because many of these institutions are in the centrally located Golden Triangle neighborhood, the city's cultural epicenter near the state Capitol building, it's easy to see several museums in a single day. To help you decide how to prioritize your time, U.S. News asked local experts to share their picks for the top museums in Denver.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
(Courtesy of Visit Denver)
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is known for its interactive installations and top-tier traveling exhibits. Some of the most notable permanent attractions include a children's Discovery Zone, a planetarium, the Prehistoric Journey dinosaur display and an Imax theater.
"It's definitely geared towards families, but I'm 32 and I'm in love with it," says Joern Howind, concierge at the Four Seasons Hotel Denver. "I could easily spend two or three days there myself. It's just fantastic."
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This award-winning museum has an outdoor terrace overlooking City Park, offering one of the best views in town, and holds special events like free days and adults-only hours. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $14.95 for adults and $9.95 for kids ages 3 to 18.
Denver Art Museum
Housed in two buildings that are impressive works of art themselves, the Denver Art Museum is renowned for its array of exhibits, including one of the largest collections of Native American art in the world, and its textile art gallery, which features costumes, quilts and pieces of fashion history. "This is a must-see museum with really good, eclectic collections," says Jordan Chavez, concierge at the Hotel Teatro.
For a nontraditional art museum experience, don't miss the "Untitled Final Fridays" event series featuring mixed-media collaborations with local artists after hours. General admission is $13 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. Children younger than 18 can enter for free. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours on Friday.
Colorado Music Hall of Fame
Most people who visit the world-famous Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater don't take time to explore the Colorado Music Hall of Fame at the facility's Trading Post souvenir shop, which features music memorabilia, photography and tales of the celebrated concert venue's history. Exhibits profile legendary artists like John Denver and offer a backstage glimpse with one-of-a-kind photos of Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.
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Located about 16 miles west of downtown Denver, the Colorado Music Hall of Fame is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day, and admission is free.
The American Museum of Western Art
Once a girls' school and then a brothel, the Navarre Building now houses an impressive museum celebrating an important American landscape. It houses the Anschutz Collection of paintings, which depict the history and scenery of the American West from the early 19th century.
"The Navarre Building is historic and inside there's beautiful artwork with a lot of information and history behind it," explains Zeyna Aouad, social media coordinator at the Grand Hyatt Denver. "If people want to learn about the history of the West, it's a great place to go. It's very appropriate for Colorado."
The American Museum of Western Art is open to the public Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Self-guided tours cost $5 and guided tours are $10.
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Molly Brown House Museum
(Courtesy of Visit Denver)
A tribute to the "unsinkable" Molly Brown, famous for surviving the Titanic shipwreck and becoming a leading visionary in the early women's rights movement, this museum is housed in Brown's classic Queen Anne home, built in the late 1800s and now a local landmark.
"It's a unique place to go. She was an extraordinary individual," says Zac Johnson, head concierge at The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa. "She did a lot of things to progress society and by going to that museum you can learn a lot."
The Molly Brown House Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and on Sunday from noon to 3:30 p.m. To visit, you must take part in a guided tour, which costs $11 for adults and $7 for children younger than 13. An on-site museum store is a great place to buy souvenirs, and special events are often held around the holidays.
Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
Denver's first museum dedicated to contemporary art is one of the city’s most underrated attractions, says Michael Schmidt, tour concierge at The Crawford Hotel. "Even if you're not into art it's such a cool place," he says.
In addition to a constant rotation of exhibits, the MCA has an interactive children's section, a calendar of special events and workshops, and a cafe with a rooftop deck. Admission to the museum is $8 for adults, $5 for students and free for children younger than 18. The museum, in Lower Downtown, is open Tuesday through Sunday, though hours vary.
Colorado Sports Hall of Fame
Located inside the Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium – home to the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos football team – this museum celebrates Denver's love of sports with exhibits like a timeline of important historical events in Colorado's sports history, current and past inductee information and a kid's zone.
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The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame museum is open Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. From June through August, the museum is open Monday through Saturday. Admission is free, though visitors can purchase tickets for group tours of the museum and stadium.
To experience more of what Denver has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.
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