15 BEST Museums in Denver for Art & History in 2023

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The best museums in Denver offer a glimpse into the city’s past and present, from its Wild West history to modern innovations.

The exhibits on display at these museums are varied, ranging from globally significant artifacts to contemporary art and interpretations of the state’s history. 

Not to mention the many local artists and featured installations that are on display in specified buildings. It’s a true treasure trove of history, culture and art that we enjoy experiencing as Colorado locals.

From rotating exhibits and interactive installations for kids to permanent collections of local artists, this list of the best museums in Denver has it all.

1. Denver Museum of Nature & Science

denver museum of nature science

Many locals and visitors to Colorado will agree that the Museum of Nature & Science is one of the best museums in Denver.

It’s located within the open green space that is Denver’s City Park, along with the Denver Zoo. 

It’s home to a stockpile of exhibits including authentic Egyptian mummies, the Wildlife Halls, prehistoric displays, North American Indian culture, and more.

And uniquely available to Colorado, is the Gems & Minerals area where you can see the largest piece of gold ever found in the state.

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The Denver Museum of Nature & Science also hosts an IMAX theater featuring 3D films that are both educational and entertaining.

Younger kids will also enjoy the Discovery Zone which offers hands-on activities and a Space Odyssey.

2. Meow Wolf Denver – Convergence Station

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The Meow Wolf Museum in Denver is a unique experience to say the least. This crazy popular Convergence Station offers an immersive art experience which is hard to describe.

This collection of art, photography, paintings, sculptures, architecture, and costuming is a truly inspiring experience.

One of the most popular exhibits at Meow Wolf Denver is “The Cathedral” which is a psychedelic structure that first appeared at Burning Man.

While many people may not agree that Meow Wolf is one of the best museums in Denver, there’s no denying that it features truly fantastical art installations.

Plus, you can’t miss the giant triangle-shaped building off I-25 and Colfax Avenue. It spans more than 90,000 square feet!

3. Denver Art Museum

denver art museum building

One of our personal favorites is the Denver Art Museum (DAM) which is open daily from 10am to 5pm. 

It’s one of the largest art museums that you’ll find from the West Coast to Chicago, so it’s definitely worth a visit.

The Denver Art Museum hosts more than 70,000 art pieces and installations from various time periods and countries. 

In fact, the building itself is a work of art created with a triangular steel frame designed to emulate the Rocky Mountains.

And be sure to stop for a bite to eat at The Ponti, owned by Jennifer Jasinski, a James Beard Award-winning local chef.

The DAM is conveniently located within a block or two of other great museums in Denver like:

  • The Clyfford Still Museum
  • The Kirkland Museum of Fine Art 
  • The History Colorado Center

This area of the best museums in Denver is known as the “Golden Triangle” since it features so many museums within close proximity.

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4. History Colorado Center

For a deep dive into the Centennial State’s colorful past, check out the History Colorado Center.

The museum spans four floors with more than 15 exhibits, people, places, and events that surround the awe-inspiring peaks.

This History Colorado Center is one of the best museums in Denver for good reason! It details the area’s past and highlights the events that have formed the state over time.

Inside the museum you’ll also find an exhibit completely dedicated to the Colorado Women’s History Museum. 

It’s become the center for showcasing all of the inspiring women and what they’ve contributed to Colorado since 1883.

This History Colorado Center is popular with local schools as a kids field trip destination. However, there are plenty of exhibits and things for adults to enjoy as well.

5. Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum

If you’re into historic aircraft and military history, or if you have kids who are into all things space exploration, then you’ll like this next pick.

The Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum is a huge 182,000+ square foot building. 

It displays the history of aviation and space travel including various aircraft, space vehicles, space mission artifacts, and military uniforms.

To say that the museum hanger is staggeringly large is an understatement thanks to extraordinarily high ceilings and historic artifacts.

This former Lowry Air Force Base is open daily to the public from 10am to 5pm, except on Sundays when it opens at noon.

The Exploration of Flight campus offers immersive and informative programming regarding all things flight. And don’t miss the flight simulators that let you pilot your own aircraft.

6. Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus 

As one of the best museums in Denver for kids, the Children’s Museum features interactive exhibits and art displays for children of all ages. 

Located at the Marsico Campus, this 9-acre facility includes both indoor and outdoor activities. 

Kids can learn about careers they might want to have when they grow up or what it’s like to glide through a waterfall.

The museum features a wide variety of topics including the science of giant bubbles, rock climbing, preparing food with real chefs, and more.

The Children’s Museum of Denver is a great place for younger kids but anyone over the age of 9 will generally have the best time.

7. Molly Brown House Museum

molly brown house museum denver

If you enjoy learning about the history of the Titanic then you’ll want to check out the Molly Brown House Museum in Denver.

Back in 1894, Margaret Tobin “Molly” Brown moved in before her incredible voyage on the Titanic

The Molly Brown House was very modern for the era and included electricity, indoor hot and cold running water, and a telephone.

Touring the museum gives you a glimpse of how people of Colorado lived in the late 1800’s. You’ll see photos, journals, and antique furniture belonging to Molly Brown and her family. 

After that fateful experience and surviving, the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” became an activist for women, a philanthropist, as well as a pillar of Colorado.

Since her death, the museum was deeded to the city of Denver and is open to the public Wednesday – Sunday from 10am to 4pm.

8. The Denver Mint

Discover the fascinating history of the United States Mint right here in Colorado! Of the six Mints around the country one of those is located here in the Mile High City. 

The city takes pride in its historic building, which stands as one of Colorado’s oldest institutions. In fact, one of the first museums we ever visited together as a couple was the Denver Mint.

In 1862, Congress gave the approval for a branch Mint in Denver, mainly for miners to bring gold to be melted and cast into bars. In 1906, the building was converted to a U.S. Mint factory and produced its first gold and silver coins.

Since then, the Denver Mint has been a staple of the city and continues to produce coins to this day. It makes circulating and collectible coins as well as coin dies and stores for gold and silver.

Witness for yourself how billions of coins are produced annually for the American public with a free, guided tour of the Denver facility. 

Complimentary tours to the Denver Mint are available daily from 7am Monday to Thursday but tickets are first-come, first-served.

9. Denver Firefighters Museum

Adults and kids alike will enjoy discovering the history that the Denver Firefighters Museum has to offer. 

Jump into exploring the evolution of firefighting in Denver while discovering the trucks and equipment that have been utilized throughout the years. 

Kids (or kids at heart!) can ring an old alarm within the museum, which is housed within a former fire station.

Starting May 2023, you can sign up your children for Fun at the Firehouse which includes story and craft time twice a month. 

This engaging museum is suitable for both adults and children, making it an ideal destination for all ages.

10. Forney Museum of Transportation

Located in the swiftly gentrifying RiNo neighborhood, the Forney Museum of Transportation boasts over 800 transportation-related artifacts.

The museum houses an impressive array of vehicles that spans from buggies to locomotives, airplanes, and even sleighs. 

Visitors can marvel at vintage modes of transportation, such as a Stutz Fire Engine and an 1888 Denver cable car.

Plus, keep an eye out for Amelia Earhart’s 1923 Kissel “Gold Bug,” and a bicycle from 1817, among others.

Although it may not cater to art aficionados, the Forney Museum has something to offer nearly everyone else (we promise!). 

The museum showcases over 600 exhibits, including buggies, motorcycles, steam locomotives, fire trucks, bicycles, and cars. 

The Forney Museum of Transportation is like an automotive and car collections dream museum to visit in Denver!

11. Four Mile Historic Park


Experience life in the Old West firsthand by visiting one of Denver’s exceptional open-air museums. 

Four Mile Historic Park is a unique, outdoor living history museum that includes a working farm. You can even watch a real-life blacksmith demonstration!

You and your family will marvel at historically accurate replicas and explore a fully functioning farm with diverse animals. 

Or tour the Four Mile House Museum, Denver’s oldest standing structure. It offers an immersive peek into Denver’s Western legacy through its recreated exhibits.  

Along with regular visits, Four Mile Historic Park also hosts various special events throughout the year and provides unique programs for field trips, birthday parties, and other occasions.

12. Clyfford Still Museum

The Clyfford Still Museum pays homage to the life and works of modern artist Clyfford Still.

With its 3,200-piece collection he is celebrated for his pioneering role in the Abstract Expressionist movement. 

Clyfford Still wanted his works exclusively showcased in one museum, and this fulfills that vision. When touring the museum, you’ll be taken on a chronological journey through his body of work. 

Starting with his early 1920s sketches and miniature landscape paintings, and culminating in his monumental large-format canvases from the 1950s that burst with color. 

The Clyfford Still Museum is a breathtaking space that showcases a single artist’s signature hyper-intentional brushstrokes, bold colors, and larger-than-life canvases. 

The museum’s exhibits offer insight into the evolution of Still’s work over time. Plus, it fosters a greater appreciation for post-World War II abstract and modern art. 

The Clyfford Still Museum is a gem in Denver’s art museum scene, joining the ranks of the Denver Art Museum and other esteemed institutions. 

13. American Museum of Western Art – The Anschutz Collection

The Anschutz Collection was once the personal art collection of the Anschutz family. Today it’s housed within the American West Museum in the historic Navarre Building. 

The museum features three floors of galleries that showcase both historic and contemporary art. 

Get lost in scenes of cowboys, prairies, and breathtaking landscapes of the American West, along with a wealth of other captivating exhibits.

The building, which was constructed in the 1880s, started as a girls’ school before being transformed into various other businesses. 

The collection features over 300 paintings that span almost two centuries of Western art, ranging from 19th-century works to contemporary pieces. 

You can enjoy a salon-style display of the paintings, which cover movements like the Hudson River School (including works by artists like Bierstadt and Moran). 

Plus, check out Expeditionary Art and pieces from notable artists such as O’Keeffe and Frankenthaler. 

Self-guided tours are available almost daily, with docent-guided tours offered on specific dates (check the calendar for availability). 

If you’re interested in impressive depictions of life in the Old American West, the American Museum of Western Art is the perfect destination. 

14. Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

As art lovers, our list of the best museums in Denver has to include the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA).

Although only being around for the last 30 years or so, the museum boasts a diverse collection of artworks from various periods. 

Five galleries offer rotating experimental art and ideas, while installations like feature video displays and performance art for a full-sensory experience. 

In addition to exhibitions, the museum offers a range of performances and lectures at The Holiday Theater.

And the on-site café serves drinks and small plates that are often inspired by the artwork on display. 

Take some time to visit the MCA Teens area and observe the creative works of art from the next generation. 

The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver building was designed by renowned architect David Adjaye and is itself considered a major attraction. 

It blurs the boundaries between the interior and exterior for a unique sensory experience. 

15. Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Unlike some of the other Denver museums on this list, the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art displays more than just art.

Its salon-style setting displays three main collections showcasing art from the 1870s to present-day. 

Expect to see everything from Andy Warhol paintings to chairs designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

In addition, you’ll learn about Colorado painter Vance Kirkland, famous for his stellar, explosive abstract art, as well as his passion for collecting art.

The Kirkland Museum was originally housed in Kirkland’s Capitol Hill studio, including works by fellow Colorado artists. 

But in 2016, the studio was moved to the Golden Triangle creative district, where a new building was designed and built. 

You can even tour the space where the artist worked on his famous abstract and dot paintings as his original three-room studio was relocated to the new location.  

Now, located just eight blocks away from the Denver Art Museum, the Kirkland Museum is easy to visit both in a day. Don’t miss out on this museum’s unique setting and Kirkland’s impressive legacy.

Does Denver have good museums?

Yes, without a doubt the city of Denver has great museums to visit for both locals and tourists.

In addition to the museums on this list, the Denver Botanic Gardens is also a must-visit. Thanks to many annual events, like the Blossoms of Light and Glow and Gardens, it’s always a perfect time of year to explore.

Our annual memberships to the Denver Botanic Gardens and the Denver Art Museum let us enjoy the amazing history the state has to offer.

Even though Denver is surrounded by natural beauty, it would be a mistake to overlook the city’s rich cultural offerings. 

Some of the city’s flagship institutions have recently undergone renovations with future upgrades planned. 

Book some time to tour these local museums as many of them are located in downtown Denver or within a few blocks of each other. You’re bound to learn something new and be entertained along the way.

Some of the Denver museum tours offer free admission, while others require a small fee to enter.

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