Located in the western central part of the United States, Colorado is the eighth largest state in terms of physical size and the 21st biggest in terms of population. This results in Colorado being one of the most sparsely populated states of all. Nicknamed the Centennial State, Colorado covers an area of 104,094 square miles and has an estimated population of 5.6 million. Colorado earned its nickname due to the fact that it officially became a state 100 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
5 of the Largest Cities in Colorado
- Overview, Photo: Teri/stock.adobe.com
- Denver, Photo: Tomasz Zajda/stock.adobe.com
- Colorado Springs, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
- Aurora, Photo: jzehnder/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Collins, Photo: MarekPhotoDesign.com/stock.adobe.com
- Lakewood, Photo: Tomasz Zajda/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of dbvirago - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum, located in downtown Denver, Colorado, is a world-class museum with the largest collection of American Indian art in the world. It is additionally renowned for its large and eclectic offerings, pre-eminently its collection of modern and contemporary design, one of the largest in the United States.
The Daniel Yohannes Family African Gallery houses the African Collection, made of up more than 1,000 pieces of contemporary and historic art. The gallery includes rare works of sculpture, textiles, jewelry, painting, print-making and drawing. The focus is on West African art, particularly that of the Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin. Many of the more famous works are by Olowe of Ise (1895-1938), a master of wood sculpting who lived in a region that is in present-day Nigeria.
The museum has been careful to balance art by male Africans with that of female African artists, and seeks to explore questions of gender, rituals and the importance of group creativity in African art. In addition to visual arts, the museum also gives patrons an opportunity to view African performance art such as music and dancing.
The American Indian Collection houses works of almost every Native tribe in the United States and Canada. From the prehistoric to the present, and in diverse artistic formats, the museum displays the vibrant and continuing traditions of Native Indian art. The first museum in North America to collect Indian art, the Denver Art Museum began its collection in the 1920s, and now owns over 20,000 art objects.
The most extensive part of the American Indian Collection is that of the Plains and Plateau Indians, who are represented by six full-sized tipis, drawings, weapons, beading, horse trappings, belts, blankets, headdresses, shirts, dresses and footwear. The Southwest Indian Collection has pottery, basketry and jewelry from more than twenty-five tribes. Of particular interest are kachina dolls of the Hopi tribe, which are figural representations of spirits used in twice-yearly Hopi rituals.
The Arctic Indian collection contains archeological and contemporary Inuit art, mainly woodblock and stone cut prints of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The Northwest Coastal Indians are exemplified by wood and bone carvings of the Tlingit, Haida, Nuxalk and Kwakwaka’wakw people. This collection also includes full-sized totem poles, ceremonial items and decorated utilitarian objects such as ornate dug-out canoes. The Southeast Indian collection puts its main emphasis on the Seminole people, particularly the patchwork clothing typical of the tribe. The collection also puts a spotlight on the mid-20th century revival of basketry among the Cherokee and Choctaw people, and has some historical objects from this region, including beaded bandolier bags of the early 19th century.
The Architecture, Design, and Graphics gallery contains objects dating from the Middle Ages to the 1900s, and represents all major design developments during that span of time across Europe and North America. Some of the highlights of the collection are a collection of Georgian silver, architectural drawings by Frank Lloyd Wright, more than eight hundred rock and roll posters from the psychedelic era and original screen prints by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. Significant works by innovative Colorado designers are also featured in the gallery.
The Asian Art collection at the Denver Art Museum started in 1915 and holds works from the 4th century B.C. to the present. Works from throughout Asia are on display and include a large holding of bamboo art from China, Japan and Korea. The museum’s collection of Southwest Asian art includes works from the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia, and covers the flourishing and growth of Islamic art.
The European and American Art galleries feature pre-1900 European ar and pre-1945 American art. Significant works from 19th century France are included, as well as important Renaissance and Old Master paintings. The jewels of the collection are Winslow Homer’s Two Figures by the Sea; Camille Pissarro’s Autumn, Poplars, Eragny; and Claude Monet’s Waterlilies.
The Denver Art Museum’s Modern and Contemporary Art collection has more than 12,000 works, including art pieces by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keefe and Andy Warhol. There are installations of major post-war art movements, such as abstract impressionism, minimalism, pop art, conceptual art and contemporary realism. The museum studies closely the legacy of Austrian-born Bauhaus master Herbert Bayer.
The Oceanic Art Collection at the Denver Art Museum consists of an array of art forms from the South Pacific, primarily Melanesia and Polynesia. Over 1,000 pieces are owned by the museum, including historical sculpture, bark cloth and wood carvings. The collection pays particular attention to two artists from Papua New Guinea: Mathias Kauage, who was a painter and woodblock carver, and Laben Sakale, a contemporary painter.
The Photography Collection at the Denver Art Museum has the world’s most extensive collection of 19th century art from the American West. The gallery showcases the shifting environmental attitudes of 19th century Americans. The museum also has a strong holding of European and American modernist photography. The Daniel Wolf Photography Collection contains photos from all across the United States, with an emphasis on landscape photography. The Photography Collection also highlights European modernist photographers, including Gyorgy Kepes, Jaromir Funke and Man Ray.
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The Pre-Columbian Art Collection includes works from every major culture in Mesoamerica, Central America and South America, as well as some artistic pieces from the Spanish Colonial Era. The collection holds pre-Columbian masterworks in ceramic, gold, stone, jade and textiles. The fine Costa Rican art holdings are amongst the world’s best, and the museum is particularly proud of its jade axes from Guatemala. Another gem is the group of intricately-carved, boldly-colored ceramics from Marajo Island in Brazil.
The Textile Art and Fashion collection contains 5,000 objects from Asia, Europe, North America and South America, dating from ancient archeological finds to contemporary works. Its corpus of 300 American quilts, and 100 samplers from the 18th and 19th centuries are the center points of the collection. Also featured are 600 pieces of Chinese textiles from the late Qing dynasty, and a compilation of ecclesiastical vestments from the Renaissance period to the early 1900s.
The Petrie Museum of Western Art is part of the Denver Art Museum. It is the international leader in scholarly research and displays of art of the American West. Famous pieces include Frederic Remington’s bronze The Cheyenne; Charles Deas’s Long Jakes, “The Rocky Mountain Man” and Charles M. Russell’s In the Enemy’s Country.
The museum offers guided tours for every patron. To fulfill a commitment to accessibility, it has custom tours for the hearing-impaired that offer American Sign Language translation, as well as tours for the visually-impaired that include descriptive narrations and tactile opportunities. Art and About tours are customized for visitors with early-stage Alzheimer’s and dementia and their caregivers.
Families with small and school-age children are given enrichment opportunities around every corner of the Denver Art Museum. Creative Corners exist in many galleries, giving all museum visitors hands-on experiences that include puppet-making, dressing in costumes, creating a treasure box or trying their hand at Samoan-inspired designs. Family Backpacks can be obtained upon admission and contain the tools for making pictures, as well as games and puzzles.
The Daniel Yohannes Family African Gallery allows visitors to connect to creative artist El Anatsui, a Ghanaian artist renowned for his large-scale wall sculptures made from discarded bottle caps. Patrons of the museum are encouraged to draw on his works to make pictures from recycled boxes. In the American Indian collection, museum visitors have an opportunity to try their hand at recreating Native beading designs. The European and American Art gallery has books, games and hands-on activities to help visitors interact with the works in the collection. In the Oceanic Art Collection, patrons of all ages can design their own patterns on bark cloth in the manner of regional masters.
Photography lectures by pre-eminent photographers and scholars are given regularly by the museum and are open to all. Conversation with a Curator talks are given monthly by different museum curators and invite lively discussion. Field trips for school groups and youth groups are offered, as are seminars for teachers interested in art instruction. Mindful Looking is a tour option that invites visitors to slow down and spend time with a work of art, guided by an experienced docent who helps museum patrons see the intricacy of an art work.
100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver, CO 80204, Phone: 720-865-5000
Attraction Spotlight: Denver Botanic Gardens
The Denver Botanic Gardens, located in Denver is one of the most celebrated public botanic gardens in the United States.
With thousands of types of plants spread across 24 acres, the garden aims to be an urban oasis and a tranquil green space in the midst of city sprawl. It is a spot for education, entertainment and contemplation, and has a focus on semi-arid plants like the ones which grow wild in the region. While the main bulk of the formal gardens are located at York Street in Denver, there is also a second site, Chatfield Farms, in Chatfield Bluffs in the southwest outskirts of Denver.
Split across two locations, city slickers can take some time to wander the gardens in York Street or head out of town to the 750 acre Chatfield Farms native plant refuge. In the main area of York Street, there are a huge number of different gardens which mostly fall into five broad categories: Gardens of the West highlight Colorado’s native plants; Internationally Inspired Gardens are modelled after gardens from around the world; Ornamental Gardens reach their peak in spring during flower blossom season; Shady Gardens aims to provide cool relief on hot days; and the Water Gardens focus on aquatic plants and water features.
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Gardens of the West feature 18 different gardens showcasing plants that grow in arid areas through all seasons and weather, making them an appealing sight even during the winter months. Local flora such as bristlecone pines sit alongside native shrubs and grasses, and the Promenade Garden shows off how these low-water plants survive on the state’s steep slopes. Endangered and rare local plants are safe in the Conservation Garden. A greenhouse is home to 20 different types of cactus and succulent plants from across the Americas, while other gardens highlight the natural biodiversity of mountainous regions with dwarf conifer trees and ponderosa pines. Other interesting gardens here demonstrate yuccas and agave family plants in the Dryland Mesa (which receives no additional water), or plants sacred to the Native Americans of the Four Corners region.
The Internationally Inspired Gardens move away from Colorado and look to the wider world for their gardening inspiration, though many of the regions are fellow steppe areas which have a similar climate and soil composition to Denver. Japanese gardens host a variety of local and tropical species within their confines, and each aims to give a different authentic flavor of the Far East: The Ella Mullen Weckbaugh Tea House Garden features an actual Japanese tea house that was shipped from Japan, while Shofu-en was inspired by the nearby Rocky Mountains and features 130 character pines. There’s also the Bill Hosokawa Bonsai Pavilion, which presents an interesting look at bonsai plants from around the world. Other gardens take inspiration from further afield, like the South African Plaza which highlights that region’s floral diversity and fragility. June’s PlantAsia garden has species gathered from all over Asia, with special attention paid to the Himalayan pines and plants from Kazakhstan and Pakistan’s steppe regions.
Ornamental Gardens are open all year round, though they are most colorful during spring when many of the flowers blossom. The gardens here tend towards the romantic or wistful, including walkways, arches, gazebos and pavilions alongside beautiful planting patterns. Wander through the ever-changing scents of blooms in the Fragrance Garden and let your nose take the lead in the Gloria Falkenberg Herb Garden. Gardens here appeal to all the senses, and many have strong aesthetic themes such as being arranged by color or in interesting patterns. Still other ornamental gardens are dedicated to specific flower families, with the Lilac Garden and May Bonfils-Stanton Memorial Rose Garden being clear examples.
High summer sees visitors flock to the Shady Gardens choices, as the cool plants here attract birds and insects alongside their human guests. The Birds and Bees Walk makes the most of the Botanic Gardens’ natural neighbors, as it is populated with plants that attract birds, pollinators and insects – guests can catch sight of bees, butterflies and even hummingbirds. Oak Grove is dedicated to the hardy oak trees, and the Woodland Mosaic creates a fairy grotto in the forest where low-light plants grow. Shady Lane is full of crabapple blooms and spring ephemerals in springtime, but by summer it serves as an inspiration for gardeners looking at how to create low-light gardens.
Another great summer draw is the Water Gardens, which are only open between June and September and thrive on the aquatic waterway that winds through the York Street site. Over 450 different aquatic plant species grow here. The Four Towers Pool is dedicated to a different type of aquatic plant every year and always looks resplendent thanks to its tower fountains and lush greenery. The Monet Pool, meanwhile, hosts an immense array of aquatic plants, from classic waterlilies to cannas, iris, cattails and pickerel plants.
Besides these five different types of plants, the York Street site also has other attractions. The Mordecai Children’s Garden lets kids get up close and personal with plant life in a variety of different eco-systems, and the Science Pyramid shows off the scientific side of the Gardens’ mission. Its exhibition uses interactive technology to demonstrate how horticulture works in steppe regions in Colorado and around the rest of the world.
Chatfield Farms, meanwhile, sits a short drive out of Denver: A 750 acre refuge for native plants as well as a working farm, known for its exceptional bird watching. The Wildflower Gardens showcase 150 different types of rare native wildflowers and shrubs, and the Lavender Garden cultivates 14 varieties of lavender alongside low-water trees and perennials which encourage pollination.
The environment at Chatfield Farms is far more relaxed than at York Street, and events year-round focus on the site’s importance as a farm and ranch. The Farm includes the historic Hildebrand Ranch, which was first created in the 1860s by pioneering settlers as nothing but a humble log cabin and expanded through the 1870s into an impressive, extensively renovated farm which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. In its heyday, the farm had a stable and milking barn catering to 600 Hereford cattle, as well as a wagon shed, a schoolhouse (built in 1874), a granary to store grain, an icehouse and a woodshed. There’s also a recently renovated blacksmith shop, which is fully-functional and fascinating.
Before the Botanic Gardens were created in 1951, the site of the York Street gardens used to be Mount Prospect Cemetery. Most of the graves were removed from it in 1893, but occasionally remains were found during work. The Denver Botanic Gardens have been pioneers in creating different garden types and especially in focusing on water conservation and drought-resistant plants.
The Dryland Mesa at York Street was the world’s first Xeriscape Demonstration Garden in 1986, and paved the way in creating low-water gardens. The creation of Shofu-en was also historic; it was designed by Koichi Kawana, and its name translates to “Garden of Pine and Wind.” It was built in 1979.
Programs are offered by the Denver Botanic Gardens for learners of all ages and cover a range of topics. These vary wildly, from traditional gardening help, to the School of Botanical Art and Illustration. Adult programs, children and family programs and school programs are all offered to local citizens to help them learn more about plants and horticulture.
Beyond this, there are also outreach programs which occur: Excursions to the nearby Mount Goliath for wildflower hikes are organized during the summer and therapeutic horticulture is also taught.
The Denver Botanical Gardens at York Street are surrounded by greenery. The sprawling expanse of Cheesman Park lies directly behind its entrance, to the east of Denver, while Congress Park is only a block away to the west.
Other interesting sights within a short walk of the Gardens are the Denver Zoo, and Museum of Nature and Science to the North (continuing straight up York Street), and the Country Club Historic Neighborhood (around five blocks to the south).
1007 York St, Denver, CO 80206, Phone: 720-865-3501
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