Christina Aguilera, well-known singer, queen of the late ’90s and easily the most qualified judge in Pitch Perfect 2, once said: “I love doing normal things … I also love to go to art and history museums.”
If going to museums is strange, then we don’t want to be normal.
Denver is fortunate to have several informative, engaging and widely respected repositories of knowledge. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Art Museum, History Colorado Center and Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum are well worth checking out. You’re likely familiar with Meow Wolf and the Museum of Contemporary Art, both of which are notable houses of contemporary creativity.
This edition of DU Field Notes focuses on some of the area’s hidden gems. Whether intrinsically interactive, wonderfully weird or entirely educational, these museums are a guide to the past and a look into the future.
Littleton Museum, 6028 S. Gallup St.
Three words: Period. Accurate. Costumes.
The Littleton Museum and Living History Farm aims to replicate farm life in 19th century Littleton, down to a working blacksmith, typesetter and numerous farm animals. Come chill with a donkey named Ernest while expert actors transport you to a simpler time. Once you’re done learning about historic trades, check out the two gardens and several pumpkin fields that tie into live, period-appropriate cooking demonstrations.
Inside, the museum features exhibits focused on fur trappers, dress-making, native flowers, anthropological human migration and more.
There are few places better for traveling back in time than the Littleton Museum.
Distortions Monster World, 500 16th Street Mall, Suite 180
Perhaps your taste in museums skews to the weird, wild and fantastical. Distortions Monster World has that in spades. From sword-and-board fantasy to your favorite horror movies, there are more than 25 different scenes that will sweep you away from reality. Goofy ’60s aliens, a replica of the Iron Throne, dinosaurs and more haunt the halls of this establishment.
The diverse art and wild creativity alone are worth the price of admission. But Distortions Monster World has some of the best photo opportunities in the city. Pose with Chucky, a Chestburster or a chomping T-Rex to create that perfect Instagram photo.
Denver Selfie Museum, 1531 Stout St., Suite 102
Speaking of snapping that perfect profile pic, the Denver Selfie Museum pushes the boundaries of modern art with beautiful backgrounds for your next self-portrait. Whether you’re after a kaleidoscope of color, perspective-altering sets or something humorous for your legions of followers, this is the place.
It’s also one of the best options for an interactive group experience. Despite its name, the Denver Selfie Museum is best experienced with friends. Grab dinner and a drink downtown, then head over to this museum for a creative way to cap a night out.
Center for Colorado Women’s History, 1310 Bannock St.
Located in the Byers-Evans House, the history of the Center for Colorado Women’s History starts before setting foot in the museum. The beautiful Victorian home was built for Rocky Mountain News publisher William Byers in 1883, then sold to William Gray Evans—second son of John Evans, namesake of Evans Avenue and Mount Evans — in 1889. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Once inside, the Center for Colorado Women’s History expertly weaves the stories of women in Colorado into the larger tapestry of the suffrage movement, feminism and more. It leans heavily on the work of Anne Evans —the youngest of John Evans’ four children — who was a founding member and key contributor to the Denver Art Museum, Central City Opera and Denver Public Library.
Museum of Friends, 109 E. 6th St.
You’ll need a vehicle to check out this little-known treasure trove. Head down I-25 to Walsenburg (population 3,068), about 45 miles south of Pueblo, to find the Museum of Friends, opened by locals Brendt Berger and Maria Cocchiarelli in 2006. The space features a variety of mediums and artists under the wide umbrella of modern art, as well as art classes for children and adults.
The museum is part of the wider La Veta Creative District, which seeks to bolster creative industries in rural Colorado with education and events.
If you’re after small-town vibes and need an escape from the city, this is the museum to target.