In 1979, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted a mammoth Clyfford Still survey. Little did museum-goers realize that it would be their last opportunity to see Still's work for more than 30 years. When he died in 1980, Still stipulated that his work be kept from the public eye until an American city created a museum dedicated solely to his art. His wife, Patricia, selected Denver in 2005; by November 2011, the two-story, 28,500-square-foot museum finally opened its doors.
Inside, nine galleries showcase rotating pieces from nearly 94% of Still's entire output, which includes approximately 825 paintings and 1,575 works on paper. Taken together, these pieces trace Still's evolution from representational painting to abstract expressionism, a shift he made earlier than contemporaries such as Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. Besides Still's artwork, the museum houses the artist's personal belongings, ranging from sketchbooks to recordings of the many prank calls he pulled on Pablo Picasso. In addition to preserving Still's legacy, the museum plays host to events such as liquor tastings, artist lectures, and film screenings.
Children’s Museum of Denver was originally founded in a converted school bus in 1973. Since then, its surroundings have changed, but its mission has remained the same: to engage visitors in learning through play. Its collection of 13 hands-on playscapes is designed to stimulate the minds of children from birth to age 8, earning Children's Museum of Denver a spot on Forbes's 2012 list of the 12 Best Children's Museums in the US.
Amid the museum's two stories, visitors learn about fire safety in Fire Station No. 1, shop for healthy foods in the market, and unleash their creative sides with paint and stage costumes at Arts a la Carte. Dedicated to nurturing a love of math and science, the museum also features a recyclable-material assembly plant, a bubble experimentation lab, and a newly opened kinetics exhibit with a gigantic marble run.
Built in 1859, the Four Mile House marked the final rest stop for people on westward journeys to Denver along the Cherokee Trail. Nestled on the Cherry Creek’s banks, the house played host to travelers seeking home-cooked meals and a place to sleep before their final four-mile trek to the city. Since then, the abode has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, and it's Denver's oldest standing structure.
A preserved slice of frontier life circa 1859–1899, Four Mile House is open for tours, as are its surrounding barns and outbuildings. Elsewhere, visitors can greet live goats and chickens or hop aboard horse-drawn rides around the 12-acre park. Four Mile House further celebrates its pioneer legacy with events such as historic demonstrations of activities like blacksmithing, the art of taking any object and painting it black.
Rocky Top Glide leverages the energy-conserving powers of the Segway Human Transporter, allowing tour-takers to effortlessly travel city blocks to explore landmarks such as Confluence Park, the Denver Art Museum, and the State Capitol in one fell swoop. Riders follow their guides on a path that snakes toward Coors Field in lower downtown, alongside the streams of the Cherry Creek Trail, and through the central business district's money fields before landing back at the starting point. Meanwhile, the knowledgable guides provide backstories and anecdotes for the sights and sounds that their followers experience.
Since their founding in 1991, the Museo de las Americas has hewn true to a mission of celebrating the diversity of Latino Americano art. A permanent collection of more than 4,000 artifacts ranging from pre-Columbian times to the colonial era to contemporary creators provides a strikingly clear delineation of the history of Latin American culture. Temporary exhibits have explored the art of the Huichol people, whose culture remains uniquely intact even after centuries of colonial influence, and the surrealist work of Daniel Luna, which recalls Salvador Dali.
Aviation Xtreme's simulators let land-locked folk fly aboard jetfighters and WWI- or WWII-era aircraft in aerial missions or close-range combat. Aspiring aces strap into the cockpit of their simulator and choose from aircraft such as an F-15A Eagle, F-4 Phantom, or P-51 Mustang. After a short instructional video, they take off into the realistic blue yonder on a chosen mission, which can include an anti-ship mission or ground-attack mission. Each simulator is part of a larger computerized network, allowing friends to go head-to-head in a dogfight or team up to carve clouds into self-portraits.
Aviation Xtreme is housed inside Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, the former locale of the 1930s-built Lowry Air Force Base that closed in 1995, reports Frommer’s. These days, the 150,000-square-foot hangar houses more than four dozen airplanes, including five Century Series fighters and one of two B-1A Lancers on display in the world. The museum is even home to a full-size X-Wing Starfighter from Star Wars and the Harrison Ford Welcome Theater, where the staff starts each day in hiding to surprise Mr. Ford in case he visits.
In addition to aircraft from films, the museum’s space and rocketry exhibits include full-scale replicas of boilerplate spacecrafts used to train Apollo missions to the moon. Others models recreate planes in all their glory, such as the 16-foot Titan II launch vehicle, while hands-on exhibits replicate the conditions of space travel.