Denver’s burgeoning arts scene is home to a diverse group of uniquely talented artists. Each artist brings to Denver’s innovative creative culture their own unique background, style, perspective, and medium of choice. Take in artists’ works in all mediums to celebrate what makes Denver’s arts scene so unique and personal.
Golden Triangle Creative District
Known as the Golden Triangle Creative District, Denver’s unofficial museum district is concentrated in the triangular area bounded by Speer Blvd., Colfax Ave., and Lincoln St. Here, visitors discover a sophisticated neighborhood comprised of eight museums, 50-plus galleries, and plenty of fine art studios and specialty stores.
Coined the “creative, cultural and civic axis of Colorado” by the Golden Triangle of Denver, this arts district is home to some of the city’s most iconic destinations including 16+ galleries and museums, world-class public art displays, architecture, and popular spots to eat, drink and shop. Within these “cultural axes” of Denver, you can find the Denver Art Museum, The Clyfford Still Museum, and the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art. The Golden Triangle takes part in Final Friday Art Walks from June through September, 5pm – 9pm, for which art enthusiasts can check out the restaurants, museums, galleries, secret studios, and storefronts in the district after-hours and engage with the quirky creatives that give The Golden Triangle its personality.
Downtown Denver Area
Art and creativity aren’t only confined within the boundaries of particular districts – you can find creative works in all mediums widely integrated into the streets of downtown Denver any time of year. Notable museums not yet mentioned include: The Museum of Contemporary Art, the Dikeou Collection, and the Botanic Gardens. The Botanic Gardens also stages two indoor galleries dedicated to local artists and are open year-round. If you’re looking to do some gallery hopping or simply visit one or two, galleries we recommend include Robischon Art Gallery (dedicated to established artists), RedLine (dedicated to emerging artists), and Incredible Art Gallery.
Denver Art Museum
Denver Art Museum’s (DAM) 146,000-square-foot Hamilton Building, 100 W. 14th Avenue, anchors the Golden Triangle Creative District with its high-caliber collection, international exhibits, and some really inventive programming.
General admission is free for all DAM visitors 18 and under, and the museum caters to young connoisseurs with an array of hands-on DIY projects scattered throughout 10 gallery spaces, as well as a first-floor studio space, where guests of all ages can create art projects keyed to the theme of the moment and, on weekends, watch live demonstrations by practicing artists.
DAM rings in the last Friday of every month with Untitled, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., an opportunity for guests to mingle with artists over drinks and live music. The programming corresponds with the Final Friday Art Walk – often called “Final Fridays” – a chance for art enthusiasts to check out the restaurants, museums, galleries, secret studios, and storefronts in the Golden Triangle Creative District, June through September, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Denver Art Museum packs a lot of punch, but it certainly isn’t the district’s only gem. Next door, the Clyfford Still Museum, 1250 Bannock St., is a seductive, 28,500-square-foot minimalist institution dedicated specifically to the work of its namesake, an abstract expressionist, the bulk of whose work was hidden from public view for decades.
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art relocated to 1201 Bannock St., bringing to the Golden Triangle three collections containing more than 30,000 works by more than 1,500 artists and designers. The museum also keeps the estate collection of Vance Kirkland, the Colorado painter whose works have received more than 350 exhibitions at 70 museums and 35 universities across 13 countries.
Unlike a traditional museum, Kirkland Museum arranges its art salon- style, showing its fine art (paintings and sculpture) alongside a vast assemblage of international decorative art that has been recognized as one of the most important displays in North America, with notable examples of every major design period from Arts & Crafts through Postmodern.
Technically speaking, The ART, a hotel, isn’t a museum. But step inside the portico-like entrance of this 165-room boutique hotel, and you’ll definitely get an expertly curated, museum-quality vibe, owing in part to the fact that the chic building’s 38 pieces of artwork were arranged by Diane Vanderlip, Denver Art Museum’s former curator of modern and contemporary art.
While some pieces adorn open spaces and meeting rooms, many are concentrated in Portico Gallery, where you’ll find commissioned work from renowned national and international artists. It’s impossible to miss Leo Villareal’s Untitled , an entryway spectacle made of 24,000 LED lights that illuminate in a sequence that will never repeat itself. Be sure to look for Frank Gehry’s laminate, silicone, and wood Fish Lamp , Big Sweep, as well as the polyurethane coated steel and aluminum broom and dustpan created by European artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bru.
Bonus: FIRE Lounge (inside The ART, a hotel) is a great spot to rest your legs between museums. You can’t go wrong with Colorado lamb sliders and a smoked Manhattan.
Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
The 27,000-square foot, environmentally sustainable Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, 1485 Delgany St., elevates the local art scene from Denver’s lower downtown district, with its experimental brand of rotating contemporary exhibits. Directed by mastermind Adam Lerner, MCA Denver is a truly innovative forum that never fails to inspire and challenge patrons of all ages and artistic leanings. Case in point: Honey. On view through August 26, Denver-based photographer Kristen Hatgi Sink’s sticky exhibition is a series of videos featuring the subject (honey) dripping and pouring over composed objects and people.
Art District on Santa Fe
Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe is a membership-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose affiliates help make up the highest density of art galleries in the country. Including First Friday Art Walks, the Art District on Santa Fe is constantly hosting their own events and exhibits across its diverse galleries. It is for these reasons that the Art District on Santa Fe is arguably the best place to gallery hop in Denver. If you don’t want to hit them all, one notable gallery to visit is the RULE Gallery, known for showcasing the work of new and emerging artists, and sure to impress.
For museums, we recommend highly the Museo de las Americas which was opened 25 years ago in celebration of the diversity of Latino art, culture, and traditions which speaks to the history of the neighborhood. Visit the Art District on Santa Fe’s event website to see if your visit overlaps with any unique celebrations of the local historical culture and creative inventors.
Claiming the largest concentration of art galleries in Colorado, Denver’s 15-year-old Art District on Santa Fe is the best place to gallery hop. On the blocks of Santa Fe Dr. between 5th and 11th Avenues, visitors are greeted by 30 galleries interspersed with studios and cooperatives, theaters, museums, murals, breweries, and international restaurants. (The full district is a rectangle running north-south from 13th St. to W. Alameda Ave., and east-west from Inca to Kalamath streets.
10 Notable Stops on Santa Fe Drive
- SPACE Gallery, 400 Santa Fe Dr., an airy modern gallery highlighting emerging regional and national artists
- Mai Wyn Fine Art, 744 Santa Fe Dr., the studio of Mai Wyn Schantz, known for her contemporary landscape and nature-based oil paintings on stainless steel
- ReCreative Denver, 765 Santa Fe Dr., a creative reuse store and community art center
- CHAC Gallery and Cultural Center, 772 Santa Fe Dr., one of Denver’s most unique gallery spaces, featuring the art and culture of the town’s Chicano/Latino community
- VFW Post 1 Gallery, 841 Santa Fe Dr., a community space for artists of all mediums who have served in the Armed Forces
- Museo de las Americas, 861 Santa Fe Dr., the Rocky Mountain region’s premier Latin American art museum
- Spark Gallery, 900 Santa Fe Dr., Denver’s oldest cooperative gallery
- Access Gallery, 909 Santa Fe Dr., an inclusive gallery ensuring people with disabilities experience and benefit from the arts
- Niza Knoll Gallery, 915 Santa Fe Dr., an intriguing minimalist space specializing in c onceptual exhibits
- Center for Visual Art, 965 Santa Fe Dr., Metropolitan State University of Denver’s impressive off-site gallery