Denver Rising

Buoyed by a booming population, Colorado’s capital city enjoys a welcomed cultural renaissance.

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  • Written by
    Darren Elms

Much like the smaller but buzzworthy metros of Portland and Austin, the city of Denver has drawn its fair share of commercial and residential interest in recent years. A well-maintained, accessible city just east of the Rocky Mountains’ Front Range, the 21st most populist U.S. city is a hotbed of new business and young talent mixed with a western entrepreneurial spirit … a good recipe for success now and in years to come. It’s no surprise that the cultural landscape has profited handsomely from this spurred economy, bringing with it a fresh audience and enthusiasm.

The anchor of artistic enterprise since the early ‘80s has been the Denver Art Museum, located downtown. The largest between Chicago and the West Coast, this museum hosts more than 70,000 works of art divided between 10 permanent collections including African, American Indian, Asian, European and American, modern and contemporary, pre-Columbian, photography, Spanish Colonial, textile and western American art. Ten years ago the venue doubled in size with the addition of the visually impressive Frederic C. Hamilton Building, which includes new galleries for its permanent collection, three temporary exhibition spaces, art storage and public amenities. The entire museum complex now totals more than 350,000 square feet and serves as an architectural landmark for the city of Denver and the surrounding region. (100 W. 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000,

Across from the museum, The Art mirrors its neighbor’s modern edge and looks to draw an equally curious crowd. This ambitious hotel fills its shared and private spaces with new works of art, creating its own museum feel in a hyper-contemporary setting. All the pieces are properly marked and referenced to complete the gallery-like experience. (1201 Broadway, 303-572-8000,  

Other cultural institutions that should not be missed include the History Colorado Center, Clyfford Still Museum, the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Children’s Museum of Denver.

If your artistic inclinations steer toward the audible, Denver is located near one of the coolest music venues in the West. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is not only a breathtaking natural wonder, it’s also an incredible place to watch a starry concert in the summer season. Take a walk through the museum and witness the talent that’s played here over the last decades—you’ll understand the magic. (18300 W. Alameda Parkway in Morrison, 720-865-2494, λ