Exploring Denver’s Arts + Culture Institutions

July 20, 2023

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Denver is a mecca for creativity and imagination. Recently, the Smith + Howard team traveled to Denver to attend and sponsor the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Annual Meeting. While we were there, we had the opportunity to explore some incredible museums, cultural centers, and art galleries. 

Our first impressions of Denver were incredibly positive. Everywhere we turned we found something interesting, from witty street signs to cheeky billboards – even a “Soundwalk” that plays different sounds from metal grates as unwitting pedestrians walk down the street. 

As we explored the city and its institutions over the next few days, our appreciation for the city only grew stronger. Read on for our recap of all the best places to visit in Denver, from beautiful botanical gardens to world-class art museums. 

The Colorado Convention Center

The AAM’s Annual Meeting was held at the Colorado Convention Center, a huge exhibition and event space in Downtown Denver. Almost 4,000 attendees from around the world gathered here, exchanging ideas and best practices from the museum world. 

Smith + Howard was pleased to be a Patron Sponsor, hosting a session on Employee Retention Tax Credits for museums and connecting with leaders of many arts + culture organizations from across the country. 

The Giant Blue Bear at the Colorado Conference Center
Smith + Howard’s Nicole Davis presents at the 2023 AAM Annual Meeting

The Denver Botanic Gardens

Amid the bustling city, the Denver Botanic Gardens is a beautiful and serene oasis. As soon as you step foot into the gardens, you’re transported to a world of natural beauty and tranquility. The gardens are filled with lush greenery, vibrant flowers, and an array of exotic plants and trees. Walking through the gardens is a feast for the senses, with the sweet fragrances of blooming flowers perfectly complementing the soft rustling of leaves in the breeze.

Smith + Howard was proud to sponsor a cocktail hour at the new addition to the Denver Botanic Gardens, The Freyer Newman Center. This facility fuses science and art, hosting a variety of educational events, art shows, and even a public library. 

The Denver Botanic Gardens is an oasis of calm, Kimberly Bland and Nicole Davis

The Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum was a favorite with our team, featuring an impressive collection of art from all over the world. Visitors should take care not to miss the connecting bridge that museum patrons can walk across to view even more exhibits while admiring a stunning view of the museum from above. 

The museum is home to works from many well-known artists, including Renoir, Van Gogh, and Monet. The contemporary exhibits and commitment to showcasing diverse perspectives and artists were popular with our team. As an aspiring amateur artist, I was inspired to come home and paint, my favorite hobby. 

The Smith + Howard Team at the Denver Art Museum- Sabre Linahan, Kimberly Bland, Brandy Swanson

The Denver Zoo

The world-famous Denver Zoo is a can’t-miss attraction for any visitor to the city. Home to over 4,000 animals from 600 different species, there is so much to see, with exhibits including the Predator Ridge, Primate Panorama, and Tropical Discovery. 

Our favorite creatures included the monkeys that clamber above you as you stroll the zoo’s paths plus the elephants that wandered across a bridge as kids underneath gazed up in awe at their size. The zoo places a strong focus on conservation and education, offering programs and events that raise awareness of sustainable practices.  

The acrobatic monkeys at the Denver Zoo
The Smith + Howard Team exploring The Denver Zoo – Darcy Copeland,  Brandy Swanson, and Kimberly Bland
The Elephant Walk at Denver Zoo

The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

One of Denver’s crown jewels is the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art – a magnificent collection of artwork and artifacts including stunning paintings, sculptures, furniture, and decorative objects. 

The museum itself flowed seamlessly from room to room, with each exhibit more enchanting than the last. It’s a great museum for both art lovers and non-art lovers. I particularly liked Vance Kirkland’s unique ‘dot’ art style and can’t wait to experiment with it. 

The Smith + Howard team visits the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art – Brandy Swanson, Sabre Linahan, Darcy Copeland

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Another favorite with our team was the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, a vast museum that contains countless exhibits spanning everything from a prehistoric journey through time to modern-day space exploration. 

As you enter the main foyer you’re greeted with fascinating life-sized models of dinosaurs. The Egyptian Mummies exhibit paired modern science with ancient history, using CT scans, radiocarbon dating, and isotope analyses on the mummies to uncover stories from thousands of years ago. 

We also enjoyed the Wildlife Halls, which highlight the planet’s diversity, but were sad to miss out on the planetarium and its ‘Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon’ experience. It’s certainly on our list to visit next time we’re in town. 

Team Smith + Howard visits the dinosaurs – Sabre Linahan,  Darcy Copeland, Brandy Swanson

The Clyfford Still Museum

We enjoyed connecting with the Clyfford Still Museum’s leadership team at the conference and their museum is a must-visit for any art-lover. The museum is dedicated solely to the works of Clyfford Still, a renowned abstract expressionist painter. 

As an art lover myself, this was my first introduction to Clyfford Still and I’m inspired by his evolution as an artist. While unfortunately the museum was closed the day we planned to visit, the Clyfford Still Museum is right at the top of our list for our trip to Denver this fall.

Molly Brown House Museum

Another attraction our team was sorry to miss was the Molly Brown House Museum, the historic home of Molly Brown, a noted philanthropist, activist, and survivor of the Titanic. Today, the museum serves as a tour of Molly Brown’s extraordinary life, regaling her incredible story to visitors as they explore her immaculately preserved home. 

An Unforgettable Trip to Denver

Denver’s museums and cultural institutions are not to be missed. Each one offers something unique and valuable, and Denver is a beautiful, walkable city full of humorous quirks and endless charm. 

Our team left Denver grateful for the opportunity to connect with the leaders of arts and cultural institutions in such an inspiring city. We’re excited for the 2024 American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting in Baltimore and can’t wait to explore everything the city has to offer. 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we were in Denver because we specialize in serving arts and culture organizations, including museums across the country. Our experience and knowledge of the accounting needs of these organizations so critical to our nation is unmatched. I invite you to connect with us by contacting an advisor today.

How can we help?

If you have any questions and would like to connect with a team member please call 404-874-6244 or contact an advisor below.