Planning some leisure time in colorful Colorado? No visit to the Centennial State is complete without exploring all the must-visit museums in Denver. If you thought the Mile High City was only about local brews and mountain views, think again!
Denver is renowned for its thriving arts and culture scene – and world-class museums are one of the city’s crowning glories. Whether you’re an art lover, history enthusiast, or science nerd, you’ll find something that captivates you in Denver’s top museums.
Marvel at masterpieces by the likes of Frida Kahlo and Claude Monet at the Denver Art Museum. Be enthralled by prehistoric fossils and Egyptian mummies at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Steep yourself in Colorado’s colorful past with the immersive exhibits at the History Colorado Center. Get an inside peek at the fascinating life of an “unsinkable” Colorado legend at the Molly Brown House.
Ready to get the lowdown on the Mile High City? Discover its treasuries of art, history, and science with this complete Denver museums guide!
Why Treksplorer? Founded in 2011 by Ryan O’Rourke, Treksplorer provides travel recommendations and advice to millions of readers every year. Our content is rooted in our writers’ firsthand experiences, in-depth research, and/or collaborations with other experts and locals. Read more about our editorial policy.
Denver Art Museum
Set in Denver’s Golden Triangle Creative District in the heart of downtown, the Denver Art Museum is one of the largest art museums in the Western United States. Originally built by famed Italian architect Gio Ponti, it was expanded with an addition by equally legendary architect Daniel Libeskind. Before entering, take a moment to admire the eye-popping design: shimmering steel rectangles that echo and reflect the nearby mountain peaks.
There’s more visual splendor inside. The Denver Art Museum boasts over 70,000 pieces of art spread across 12 permanent collections featuring both international and regional artists. Explore a wide range of rich collections, including everything from Monet masterpieces to African and Asian art – all spanning multiple media and eras.
Discover intriguing spaces that are dedicated to architecture and design, contemporary Western American art, and North American Indigenous Art.
And there’s plenty to keep the kiddos happy, with kid-friendly areas on every floor, even in the permanent collections. Snag one of the museum’s family backpacks – filled with puzzles, games, and art-making tools – to fire your little creators with inspiration.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Venture into a world of enthralling scientific discoveries at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Set in Denver’s City Park neighborhood – a scenic green space that’s also home to the Denver Zoo – this city landmark is one of the most popular museums in Denver.
Give yourself plenty of time to browse because the Denver Museum of Nature & Science is massive! This amazing destination aims to “inspire, surprise, and entertain,” and with exhibits showcasing everything from ancient Egypt to space exploration, that’s exactly what it does!
Venture into this top family attraction, and you’ll discover a world of wonders. Explore fascinating exhibits that showcase dinosaur fossils, Egyptian mummies, North American Indigenous cultures, space exploration, dazzling gems, and the hands-on Discovery Zone for kids.
Be sure to hit the Gates Planetarium, where you can take flight with an out-of-this-world adventure, and grab a seat in the IMAX theater for a spectacular 3D experience with films like Oceans: Our Blue Planet.
History Colorado Center
Want to experience Colorado history brought to life? Take a deep breath and a deep dive into the past at the History Colorado Center. This remarkable 141-year-old institution is the oldest museum in Colorado, and it’s guaranteed to spark the imaginations of visitors of all ages.
One of the coolest places to visit in Denver, this landmark of Colorado’s past is home to more than 15 exhibits and four floors that capture the essence of the Colorado frontier spirit. Immerse yourself in the fascinating stories, artifacts, and art that the History Colorado Center has brought together to recount the story of the American West.
Explore Colorado’s colorful past through high-tech, hands-on exhibits, and educational programs. Go for a virtual ramble across the plains in a vintage Model T, test your skills (virtually) on a famous Colorado ski jump, and experience the challenges of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Take in the moving stories and artistic creations of Colorado’s original and enduring peoples, the Ute.
Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
It’s no coincidence that the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is set in Lower Downtown (LoDo), a district experiencing a second life as one of the coolest neighborhoods in Denver. The museum is less than 30 years old, but it’s made LoDo a magnet for lovers and creators of art.
If you’re looking for art that pushes the envelope and provokes thought, you’ll find it at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. This cultural institution is all about engaging its community – so snag a ticket and take a deep dive into a treasury of intriguing installations, exhibits, and events.
Enjoy up-close views of compelling works by creators ranging from superstars like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring to exciting up-and-comers. If you want to take a peek at what the artists of tomorrow are cooking up, carve out some time to check out the MCA’s Teens area.
Looking for more to explore on your Denver trip itinerary? Head over to the Holiday Theater, where you can soak up MCA-sponsored artist lectures, live performances, and film screenings.
Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus
On the hunt for a spot where kids of all ages can feed their appetite for learning? Then pack up the gang and head for the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus.
Spread across a nine-acre campus, this site offers a generous spread for curious kids (and kids at heart) to feast on. Youngsters can dive into a huge array of interactive indoor and outdoor exhibits.
At the Children’s Museum of Denver, children can learn about water and energy as they explore the science of giant bubbles. Dabble in the kitchen with real chefs, or operate a veterinary clinic. Man a post at the Fire Station or interact with customers at My Market. Adrenaline junkies can explore the Box Canyon or get lost in the thrills of the Adventure Forest.
If they want to unleash their inner artist, youngsters can draw, paint, build, or sculpt the day away in the art studio. When they’re ready for some quiet time, they’ll find a cozy place to curl up in the book nook.
Molly Brown House Museum
She was the stuff of legend and the subject of a Hollywood movie, but there’s much more to know about the “unsinkable Molly Brown.” Treat yourself to a fascinating insider’s view of the woman behind the legend at – where else? – the Molly Brown House Museum.
Cross the threshold, and you’ll step back in time to the year 1894 when Molly Brown bought the house. A beautifully restored Victorian mansion in Capitol Hill, the Molly Brown House Museum offers a unique snapshot of Denver’s history and the grandeur of Denver’s gold-rush and silver-baron era.
More than merely a famous survivor of the sinking of the Titanic, this unsinkable woman led a colorful life as a socialite, adventurer, and philanthropist. Molly Brown lived large during a hinge moment in American history that buzzed with social change. Besides being a witness, she was a mover and shaker in the drive for women’s suffrage, miners’ rights, cultural diversity, and justice system reform.
Explore on your own, or take a guided tour to learn more about the pivotal role Molly Brown played in shaping Denver during its boisterous boom-and-bust mining era.
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
If you’re looking for an art exhibit with a twist, check out the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art in Denver’s Golden Triangle Creative District. Housing over 150 years’ worth of art, this is not your typical art gallery layout. Instead, the site takes a unique approach to its displays by placing them in salon-style settings.
The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art is divided into three collections: an international collection dating from the 1870s, a Colorado and regional art collection dating from 1845, and a retrospective of works by Colorado painter Vance Kirkland.
Discover more than 30,000 works by over 1,500 designers and artists. Browse an eclectic collection of prints, sculptures, jewelry, and other creative works ranging from vintage to cutting-edge modern. The twist: pieces aren’t arranged according to era or category.
Instead, they’re mixed and matched to create striking vignettes. Explore “rooms” where Art Nouveau meets American Modern in its art, furniture, and embellishments – and you’ll feel like you’ve walked into someone’s intriguing vintage home!
Clyfford Still Museum
If you’re looking to make a deep dive into the work of a single artist, take the plunge at the Clyfford Still Museum. Set next to the Denver Art Museum in the Golden Triangle District, this site offers fascinating insights into the life and work of groundbreaking artist Clyfford Still.
At the forefront of the post-World War II Abstract Expressionist movement, Still’s works were featured alongside emerging Abstract painters like Jackson Pollack and Mark Rothko. His creations are large and powerful – so prepare to be wowed.
Explore the Clyfford Still Museum, and you’ll be able to track this remarkable artist’s development from his early sketches to the massive Color Field paintings that became his trademark. Created by laying on bold swaths of color, these vibrant works were inspired by the Canadian prairies where he spent his childhood.
Got budding artists in your crew? Bring them along, and explore a variety of family-friendly events, including art-making in a hands-on creation studio, museum tours, and live music.
American Museum of Western Art – The Anschutz Collection
If you like the idea of viewing vintage art in a vintage setting, carve out time on your vacation for the American Museum of Western Art – The Anschutz Collection. A one-of-a-kind exhibit in a truly unique setting, this is one of the most extensive collections of Western art in the country.
The museum’s setting is the historic Navarre Building, a Denver icon with a colorful past. The Navarre began life in 1880 as a girls’ school, later became a bordello, then was rehabilitated as a jazz and fine dining hotspot. After careful restoration, it was finally reincarnated as the American Museum of Western Art – The Anschutz Collection in 1997.
Step inside this stately red brick building and discover over 300 paintings spanning almost two centuries of Western art from the 19th century to the present day. Explore a fascinating mix of styles ranging from the 19th-century Hudson River School to the enthralling works of legends like Georgia O’Keeffe.
Let yourself get lost in vivid depictions of cowboys, rolling prairies, and stunning landscapes that capture the spirit of the American West – then and now.
Forney Museum of Transportation
You don’t have to be a gearhead to get a kick out of the Forney Museum of Transportation. Set in Denver’s trendy River North Art District, this one-of-a-kind exhibit has mass appeal. C’mon, who doesn’t want to check out a gold buggy once owned by Amelia Earhart?
And there’s plenty more to see! The Forney Museum of Transportation is home to one of the biggest and most unique collections of eye-popping vehicles and transportation artifacts in the world. It’s a fascinating window into the ingenious ways humans have been getting around over generations.
Put your pedal to the metal and cruise through the museum’s vast array of over 800 items. Amelia Earhart’s 1923 Kissel shares space with an amazing menagerie that includes an 1888 Denver cable car, a 1924 Stutz Fire Engine, a vintage Rolls Royce, and the legendary “Big Boy” steam locomotive.
Ready to make tracks?
Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum
If exploring the Wild Blue Yonder is high on your bucket list, you’ll want to swing over to the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum. Set in the Lowry neighborhood – the site of the former Lowry Air Force Base – this is Colorado’s official air and space museum.
Give yourself time to explore: The larger-than-life Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum clocks in at 182,000 square feet. Step inside Hangar #1, and you’ll be enthralled by an amazing collection of historic aircraft (including a massive B-52), space vehicles, military uniforms, and a myriad of fascinating artifacts.
Want a close-up view of an Orville Wright-designed propeller? While you’re at it, you may want to marvel at a chunk of moon rock from the Apollo space mission. These are just two of the jewels in this museum’s treasure trove, so check it out!
Wings Over the Rockies brims with intriguing historical exhibits, exciting flight simulators, and awesome interactive experiences that bring the past to life and open up the future of aviation and space travel.
Four Mile Historic Park
If you’re looking for a scenic haven in the heart of the city, take a breather in Four Mile Historic Park. Set on 12 acres in the leafy Washington Virginia Vale neighborhood, this is no run-of-the-mill city park. This rustic oasis is home to a 19th-century working farm complete with goats, chickens, and horses. It also happens to be the site of the Four Mile Historic Park Museum, the oldest standing structure in Denver.
Four Mile Historic Park is a portal into Denver’s Western heritage. Step into the past in this living museum and get a taste of life as it was lived over a century ago. Stroll the gardens and grounds, pan for “gold,” watch a blacksmith demonstration, and visit the animals on the site’s working farm.
Take a tour of Four Mile House, a fascinating Denver landmark that was once a lively hub serving as a stage stop, wayside inn, and tavern to travelers on the Cherokee Trail.