City Guide / Denver

A Local’s Guide to Denver’s Best Art Museums, Galleries, and Street Art

By Felicia Brower | Aug 25, 2022
Exterior view of the Denver Art Musem, one of the best museums in Denver

From public street art to niche galleries, the art scene in Denver, Colorado, is ever-growing. Whether you prefer a self-guided experience or a tour from an expert who can help you find and see art in new ways, the Mile High City has no shortage of places to visit.

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of museums, galleries, districts, and street art spots around town where you can find awe-inspiring artwork:

The best art museums in Denver

Exterior photo of Denver Art Museum

No matter what kind of art you’re interested in, you can find it in Denver. Here are our top picks for art museums in Denver that are worth a visit:

1. The Denver Art Museum

See more than 70,000 works of art from all over the world at the Denver Art Museum. Its 12 collections include art from around the world, architecture and design, modern and contemporary art, Oceanic art, photography, and textile art and fashion. Save money by visiting on one of their monthly Free Days at the DAM.

2. The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art has three principal collections featuring work from more than 1,500 artists. See an expansive decorative art collection from the 1870s to the present, a Colorado and regional art collection from 1845 to the present, and a retrospective of Vance Kirkland.

3. The Clyfford Still Museum

The Clyfford Still Museum honors the work and legacy of the illustrious painter Clyfford Still. Still’s work shifted from smaller paintings of scenery and people to colorful abstracts on gigantic canvases that are meant to inspire emotions through the bold use of colors, shapes, and lines. Visit on an SCFD Free Day to save on admission costs.

4. The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver)

Join a drop-in tour at Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver) downtown. The exhibitions rotate frequently, so it’s a nice museum to come back to regularly to see what’s changed. MCA Denver also hosts events and lectures where you can meet and mingle with other aficionados in the area. Visit during Penny Saturdays on the first Saturday of every month—Colorado residents only pay a penny for admission!

5. The American Museum of Western Art

Art and history meet at the American Museum of Western Art. Here, you’ll find a collection of hundreds of paintings that tell the story of the American West from the early 19th century to the present through the lenses of artists specializing in a wide range of styles.

The best art galleries in Denver

From fine art to abstract contemporary work, you’ll find a myriad of art on display in the following Denver art galleries:

1. Saks Galleries

Saks Galleries in Cherry Creek North has been buying and selling fine art for more than 50 years, primarily specializing in 19th- to 21st-century American and European oils, watercolors, and bronzes.

2. Abend Gallery

Abend Gallery in the Golden Triangle neighborhood has a collection that includes contemporary fine art and traditional work. It’s located a couple of blocks away from the Denver Art Museum, making it easy to visit both on the same day. You can also find some of their exhibitions at other venues, galleries, and events around the city.

3. The Denver Art Society

The Denver Art Society is a nonprofit gallery in the Art District on Santa Fe. The gallery was started by artists looking to build a supportive community where anyone and everyone can see, learn, and exhibit local art in all forms.

5. The Plinth Gallery

If you like ceramics, the Plinth Gallery in River North Art District is a must-visit spot. This Denver gallery started as the home and studio of celebrated ceramics artist Jonathan Kaplan and has since become an ever-changing exhibition space for both sculptural and functional contemporary ceramics.

6. Meow Wolf Denver’s Convergence Station

Meow Wolf Denver’s Convergence Station isn’t a gallery, per se, but it is an immersive experience that you should add to your viewing destinations list. More than 70 installations take visitors on a truly one-of-a-kind journey through four floors of innovative work from artists working with different mediums.

The best street art in Denver

1. The RiNo Art District

Denver’s street art scene is definitely worth checking out while you’re in the city. It’s easy to find in River North (RiNo) Art District thanks to the ongoing Mural Program. Vibrant work from local artists is displayed in alleys and on the sides of the buildings in RiNo/Five Points. It’s a walkable, year-round experience, and new work is added to the map regularly. You can also book a guided RiNo Art District Graffiti Tour to have someone teach you about the history of the neighborhood and show you some things you might miss on your own.

2. La Alma Lincoln Park

Find murals that celebrate the Chicano Movement of the ’60s and the cultural shifts it inspired in La Alma Lincoln Park, one of Denver’s oldest residential neighborhoods. The art that adorns the buildings in La Alma Lincoln Park serves as a reminder of the significant events, influential leaders, and rich heritage of Denver’s newest Historic Cultural District.

3. “Love This City”

If you’re looking for a good background for photos, one of the most recognizable murals in Denver is “Love This City” at the intersection of North Broadway and Park Avenue West. This mural is an eye-catching geometric tribute to the Mile High City.

4. The Colorado Wildlife Council mural

The Colorado Wildlife Council mural at 1114 Acoma Street takes street art to the next level thanks to the use of augmented reality. Activate the installation by scanning the QR code on it, and watch the elk and cutthroat trout come to life right before your eyes.

5. Colfax Avenue

Colfax Avenue has many murals, but you’ll also find art in unexpected places if you look around when you’re out and about. Take a photo with the Colfax Ave. sculpture outside of Fillmore Auditorium, and when you’re at an intersection, look at the power box to see whether it’s one of the 15 that have been transformed by local artists.

The best art districts in Denver

Denver’s art districts are creative communities that have centered themselves around the artistic and cultural expression of the residents and local creators:

1. The River North (RiNo) Art District

The River North (RiNo) Art District is home to the RiNo murals and First Fridays, where galleries stay open later and other locations open their doors for live music and gallery openings on the first Friday of every month. Check their calendar to find out about special events and classes where you can learn how to make the art you admire.

2. The Art District on Santa Fe

The Art District on Santa Fe also has First Fridays where you can take a deep dive into Denver’s art scene. Thousands of visitors come from all over the country to explore the neighborhood and see the hundreds of artists, businesses, galleries, studios, and theaters that line Santa Fe Drive. It has the highest density of art galleries in the entire country!

3. The Golden Triangle Creative District

Speer Boulevard, Colfax Avenue, and Lincoln Street serve as the borders for the Golden Triangle Creative District. Here, you’ll find several art museums, more than 15 galleries, dozens of art-focused small businesses and studios, and lots of public art. Take a stroll around the 45 blocks the Denver district encompasses and see some of the city’s highly regarded art collections.

4. The Dairy Block

The Dairy Block is a micro-district located in the LoDo neighborhood. In addition to the restaurants and entertainment you can find there, they’ve built an art program that highlights artists with strong connections to the city and a passion for sharing their experiences and stories through their work. Keep your eyes peeled as you walk around and you’ll find incredible art everywhere, from lobby galleries to the bathrooms.

4. The 40 West Arts District

The 40 West Arts District is located west of Denver proper in the suburb of Lakewood. They’ve been revitalizing the arts and culture scene along historic West Colfax Avenue by promoting local artists, hosting events, and setting up spaces where people can explore their more creative sides.

Looking to move to Denver?

The Mile High City is a fantastic place to see artwork by a vast array of creators, from world-renowned artists to local up-and-comers. From entire arts districts to small galleries, the sheer talent showcased all over Denver is truly exceptional.

If you’re looking to live in a creative and inspiring place with easy access to your favorite art, Landing’s fully furnished apartments and flexible leasing terms make it easy to check out different neighborhoods around the city. Learn more about what a Landing membership can do for you today!

Felicia Brower

Felicia Brower is a Denver-based freelance travel and lifestyle writer who loves to write about exploring the city and the great outdoors of Colorado. She loves the weird, wild, and wonderful and when she's not busy working, you can find her hiking, wandering around Denver, or planning her next adventure. (Let her know your suggestions!) Her work has been previously published in Atlas Obscura, AARP, Ohio Magazine, and Natural Awakenings. Connect with her on Twitter at @feliciaistyping.