June 19, 2024

Here’s Why Denver Is Now One of the Best U. S. Cities for Art and Design

While this Colorado capital’s idyllic setting has always been perfect for outdoorsy types on adventures or winter sports enthusiasts stopping over on their way to Aspen or Vail, Denver has also become a destination for art-loving voluptuaries, thanks to new restaurants and hotels and recently refreshed world-class museums.


Denver’s art scene has been burgeoning for decades, but old favorites have gotten face-lifts in recent years, making exploration even more worthwhile.

The Kirkland Museum of Fine Decorative Art.

The Kirkland Museum of Fine Decorative Art moved into its new Olson Kundig–designed building in March, showcasing Colorado artist Vance Kirkland’s studio and impressive collection of over 30,000 works by 1,500 artists. The salon-style space is a design lover’s dream, as the eclectic, jam-packed rooms are filled with treasures from around the world. Where else can you spot a Frank Gehry wiggle chair commingling with William Morris wall hangings?

A rendering of the renovation of the Gio Ponti–designed North Building at the Denver Art Museum.

Meanwhile, enhancements are underway at the Denver Art Museum’s Gio Ponti–designed North Building, the Italian architect’s only finished structure in North America. When the project is completed for the building’s 50th anniversary in 2021, it will feature a new welcome center as well as house the museum’s Design and Western American art collection.

In the interim, visitors can still enjoy Daniel Libeskind’s Frederic C. Hamilton Building, and exhibitions such as “Stampede: Animals in Art,” a cross-departmental show celebrating animals in art throughout various cultures and time periods, running through May 2019. And, of course, the ultra-modern building’s world-class collection of indigenous works is still on display, too.

The Clyfford Still Museum.

Across the street, the Clyfford Still Museum houses an extensive selection of the Abstract Expressionist’s work – more than 95 percent of his total output. Its collection is the most intact body of work by any major artist from any century.


Denver’s posh Cherry Creek neighborhood has been home to swanky hotels like the Halcyon for years, but the new kid in town, Moxy Cherry Creek, gives design-minded travelers a chic place to rest their heads – with plenty of Denver flair.

The lobby of the Moxy Cherry Creek.

While rooms offer all the trademarks of the Moxy brand (think minimal, modern furnishings), NINE dot ARTS curated the Southwest-centric art in the lobby and the highly Instagrammable ski-lift-turned-bench opposite the elevators. The adjacent beer garden has sleek concrete benches and a cozy fire pit that makes for an ideal spot to enjoy one of the many craft brews on tap.

If you’re looking for something more traditional and historic, nothing beats the iconic Brown Palace.


Until recently, there weren’t very many reasons to make the trek to Denver’s industrial RiNo Arts District neighborhood.

Zeppelin Station.

Zeppelin Station, a food hall housed in the neighborhood’s shiny new light-rail station, opened in March with ten international vendors, ranging from poke to poutine. During the day, the downstairs bar, Kiss + Ride, serves a menu of transit-themed cocktails for weary commuters; at night, the upstairs bar, Big Trouble, the daytime laptop warriors give way to cocktail-sipping Denverites. Try the Caged Parrot, a potent blend of rum, Campari, and absinthe, made for two.

For dinner, nearby Acorn is housed in a graffiti-filled industrial building, with high ceilings and concrete floors. The rough-hewn space is an ideal canvas for Chef Steven Redzikowski’s eclectic New American cooking. The oak-fired oven is the star here, as Redzikowski churns out dishes like earthy, flame-charred baby yams and brothy oven-roasted clams with fennel sofrito and sundried tomato.

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