12 BEST Museums in Denver [December 2020]

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When you think of Denver, you might think of sports, beer, mountains, and nightlife – but did you know this Rocky Mountain city also has some awesome museums?

This is exactly why we wrote this ultimate guide to the 13 BEST museums in Denver, CO!

We wanted to show you the side of Denver most tourists don’t see. While there are a few larger museums on this list, we also included some smaller (and quirkier!) options, so you can get a real understanding of Denver as a whole.

Whether you like sports, history, beer, or culture, our list has a museum for everyone!

Let’s go ahead and jump right into it…

#1 – Denver Art Museum

Modern and Contemporary Art Museum

Denver Art Museum

Photo Credit – westword.com

  • Features 9 departments of art
  • An eclectic mix of cultures
  • $13 entrance fee for adults (free for 18 and under)
  • Suggested Duration: 3-4 hours

The number one museum on our list was an easy one – the Denver Arts Museum! Located in downtown Denver, this is one of the best museums in the entire city and is a must-see for anyone who appreciates the arts.

The museum is impressively large and has a large variety of departments, some of our favorites departments being architecture, Asian art, European painting and sculptures, photography, and textiles.

The Denver Art Museum also features a fair amount of impressive temporary exhibitions, some of the most notable being a Claude Monet exhibition and a Dior exhibition.

The downtown locations makes this museum a perfect mid-day stop (especially on a hot summer day!). Highly recommended.

Need more specifics? Find out where to stay in Denver based on what you want to do there!

#2 – Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Science Museum

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Photo Credit – travel.usnews.com

  • Awesome for nature and animal lovers!
  • IMAX shows
  • Open every day (except Christmas)
  • $16.95 entrance fee for adults (cheaper for kids/seniors)
  • Suggested Duration: 3-5 hours

One of Denver’s most famous museums, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a MUST see for animal, nature, and science lovers.

Established over 100 years ago, this modern museum has a wide range of permanent cultural exhibitions, including Egyptian Mummies, Prehistoric Artifacts, North American Indian Cultures.

But while we love the cultural exhibitions, the bread and butter are really the animal exhibitions. You can see wildlife and nature from all around the world, including exotic species from Africa, Australia, Asia, and South America.

Also, be sure to keep an eye out for any temporary exhibitions – some of our previous favorites are a Mayan exhibition and a Silk Road exhibition!

Not yet booked? Take a look at our favorite hotels in Denver!

#3 – Denver Museum of Contemporary Art

Modern Art

Denver Museum of Contemporary Art

Photo Credit – denver.org

  • Great for lovers of the arts!
  • Rotating exhibitions every 2-4 months
  • Open most days (except Mondays – for members only)
  • $10 entrance fee (18 and under is free)
  • Suggest duration: 1-2 hours

A smaller and chicer museum, the Denver Museum of Contemporary Arts features work from some of the most prominent modern-day artists in the world.

We love that the museum has no permanent exhibitions, as they are changed every 2-4 months. This means the museum always feels alive and exciting and is more popular with the locals.

The museum features different artists from different backgrounds and showcases many different mediums including paintings, sculptures, graphic design, architecture, and much more.

Also, be sure to check out the various events that the museum hosts – lots of live music, refreshing cocktails, and tasty food events!

Let’s make this simple. These are the best hotels in Downtown Denver!

#4 – History of Colorado Museum

History Museum

History of Colorado Museum

Photo Credit – denverpost.com

  • Get to know the history of the great state of CO!
  • Permanent and rotating exhibitions
  • $14 entrance fee for adults (discounts available for other age groups)
  • Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours

While it might seem like a bit of a niche-museum, the truth is that the History of Colorado Museum is a fantastic experience and a great way to learn more about one of America’s most important states!

The museums is owned and run by History Colorado, who also have museums in Pueblo, Fort Garland, Leadville and Platteville – all of which showcase the fascinating history of the Centennial State.

Whether you are looking to learn more about the origins of the city of Denver, or you are interested in discovering what happened in Colorado during the dustbowl – there is no better place to visit!

Some pro tips… The museum is open most days of the year, and they also offer free bicycle parking! Memberships are also available, which can get you discounts on entrance fees as well as discounts in the cafe and gift shop.

Do you have an open schedule? Figure out the best things to do in Denver before you visit!

#5 – Molly Brown House Museum

History Museum

Molly Brown House Museum

Photo Credit – tripadvisor.com

  • Learn the history of one of Colorado’s most famous women
  • Historical home
  • $14 entrance fee for adults (discounts available for other ages)
  • Suggested duration: 1 hour

Who is Molly Brown?

One of Colorado’s most famous residents, Molly Brown was a philanthropist, activist, and socialite who earned the nickname ‘Unsinkable Molly Brown’ after surviving the sinking of the Titanic!

While she contributed a lot to the state of Colorado, “Unsinkable Molly” is most famous for her activism for women’s rights and universal suffrage. Her home dates back to the 19th century and is a fascinating look into the past and the life of an extraordinary woman.

One of Denver’s most important historical museums, this is recommended for anyone looking for a quicker experience. The house is not that large, and the whole museum can be done in an hour.

Have some time in Denver? These are our favorite day trips from Denver!

#6 – Clyfford Still Museum

Art Museum

Clyfford Still Museum

Photo Credit – saundersinc.com

  • See the artwork of the father of Abstract Expressionism
  • The only museum in the world dedicated to Still’s work
  • Located next door to the Denver Art Museum
  • $5 entrance fee
  • Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours

While Clyfford Still might not be a household name, he is a legend in the art community and is greatly considered to be the father of the Abstract Expressionist movement. His work inspired a new generation of artists and carved the path for painters like Philip Guston, Jackson Pollack, and many more.

Still was born in North Dakota, studied in Washington, lived in San Francisco, and died in Baltimore, but in 2004 Denver was chosen for his museum and has since become one of the best museums in the entire city.

The museum contains over 95% of Still’s work and is a unique way to see the artistic progression of a painting-virtuoso.

While there are over 3,000 works of art here, we think that an hour or two is more than a sufficient amount of time for the average Joe.

Short on time? One of these tours in Denver is the best way to see the most!

#7 – Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave

Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave

Photo Credit – tripadvisor

  • Located in Golden, CO
  • Perfect museum to pair with a hike
  • Great for families and kids
  • $5 entrance fee for adults (discounts available for other ages)
  • Suggest Duration: 1 hour

Located in the neighboring town of Golden, the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave is one of the most popular museums in all of Colorado!

This is a great museum for anyone who is interested in the history of the Wild West, and the life of one of America’s most iconic legends.

The museum has a few exhibitions (some hands-on – great for the kids) as well as an observation deck, gift shop, and a picnic area.

While we do like the museum itself, we think that it is best paired with a scenic hike or some sort of excursion in the great outdoors (which is easy to find in Golden!).

Like good weather? These are the best times to visit Denver!

#8 – Wings over the Rockies Air and Space Museum

Aviation Museum

Wings over the Rockies Air and Space Museum

Photo Credit – tripadvisor

  • 180,000 square feet of Aviation awesome-ness!
  • 50 Aircraft on display
  • On-site flight simulator
  • $16.95 entrance fee for adults (discounts available for other ages)
  • Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours

Boasting over 50 aircrafts, the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum is a DREAM for an aviation enthusiast or anyone who wants to see just how cool aviation truly is.

A real US Air Craft base, it was handed over to volunteers in 1994 and is currently one of the largest air museums in the US and is one of our favorite museums in all of Denver. In fact, it was even named as one of the 20 best aviation museums in the world by CNN!

Highly recommended for families, the museum has a well-reviewed flight simulator as well as a play area for the little ones. If you are interested in history, you’ll love the content about aviator heroes from World War Two.

Editor’s recommendation – You gotta check out the best flea markets in Denver!

#9 – Forney Museum of Transportation

Car/Train Museum

Forney Museum of Transportation

Photo Credit – denver.cbslocal.com

  • See the fascinating history of transportation!
  • Highly recommended for car or motorcycle lovers
  • $12 entrance fee for adults
  • Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours

The Forney Museum of Transportation gives a fascinating insight into the history of transportation – exhibitions include cars, motorcycles, trains, locomotives, aircraft, bicycles – even slays!

While it might sound a bit ‘niche’ for some, the museum gets outstanding reviews as its content is very educational, and their collection is very impressive (particularly some of the vintage cars and locomotives).

This is a great museum for anyone looking to kill a few hours, and because it rarely gets too crowded, this is an ideal experience for anyone who wants to avoid big crowds.

The museum is located in the very trendy RiNo district, so be sure to grab a beer or meal at one of the hip restaurants or breweries after your visit.

 

#10 – American Museum of Western Art

Historical Art Museum

American Museum of Western Art

Photo Credit – atlasobscura

  • See the beautiful art of the Wild West!
  • Only open Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  • Audio guides included with admission
  • $10 entry for adults
  • Suggested Duration: 1.5-2 hours

When you think of the Wild West you probably think of adventure…

But do you think about art?

If you answered ‘no’ then you should get down to the American Museum of Western Art ASAP!

Dating back to the American Revolution, this museum features hundreds of years’ worth of stunning art that will forever change the way you think about the American West.

Boasting over 300 paintings, be sure to ask the staff about the audio guides. They only take about 2 hours to complete, and they are packed with fascinating history and little-known-facts.

 

#11 – Children’s Museum

Educational Park for Kids

Children's Museum

Photo Credit – milehighonthecheap.com

  • Ideal for kids aged 1 – 8
  • Great for fun and education
  • $14 entrance fee for adults
  • Suggested Duration: 2-3 hours

The perfect intersection between fun and learning, the Children’s Museum of Denver is the perfect place to take your kids for a few hours!

The museum exists to ‘inspire future leaders… and adventurers’ and has the features to back that claim up. Whether it’s the ‘Adventure Forest’ or ‘Box Canyon’ – the museum features endless fun and learning for your little ones.

 

#12 – Center for Colorado Women’s History

Historical Museum

Center for Colorado Women's History

Photo Credit – historycolorado.org

  • Great for history buffs!
  • Also ideal for architecture-lovers
  • Monday’s are members only
  • Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours

The Center for Colorado Women’s History (also known as the Byers-Evans House Museum) is two museums in one – it’s a historical museum highlighting the plights of women in Colorado, but it is also a restored mansion built in the late 1800s!

The Museum tells the story of the women who have shaped Colorado, and continue to shape Colorado, and in a beautiful setting.

Guests love the knowledgeable staff, the informative content, and the beautiful decor of the refurbished Italian house.

The museum tells an important story and gives a rare look into what life was like in the early 1920s.

 

Final thoughts on the best museums in Denver, Colorado

Denver has an amazing array of museums! No matter if you are looking for history, art, entertainment or all of the above – there is something for you.

Which of these Denver museums are you going to visit? One of them? Two of them? All of them?!?

Let us know in the comments below!

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About the Author Aaron Hovanesian

Born in Los Angeles, Aaron Hovanesian is one of the original staff writers for Hotel Jules. Having backpacked the world as a young man, Aaron now prefers to travel the world in luxury, proudly staying in the world's most amazing hotels and properties.When Aaron is not traveling he lives in Western Colorado he can be found brewing his own beer (probably an IPA) or spending time with his two amazing golden retrievers.