It's no secret that Denver is blessed with some great museums, featuring everything from established collections offering grand viewings of global artwork to spaces packed with educational, hands-on opportunities; the city also has historic sites that are definitely worth a tour. And after you've had an eye-opening trip through one of these institutions, you'll find a wallet-opening experience at the end, in an equally great gift shop. Here are our favorite museum shops in metro Denver — presented in alphabetical order, with the exception of the 2015 Best of Denver winner (we're saving the best for last) — all packed with perfect ways to take a piece of your day home with you.
6. Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave
Pahaska Tepee Gift Shop
987 Lookout Mountain Road, Golden
High up on Lookout Mountain, the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave — part of the Denver Mountain Parks systems — is getting ready to celebrate the birthday of William F. Cody, aka Buffalo Bill, a legendary character of the Old West — and the world's first great marketer, according to museum director Steve Friesen. Appropriately, the museum is not only filled with exhibits celebrating Cody's life and how he affected our view of the West, but the gift shop next door — the first building on the site — is full of kitsch that will help you remember how the West was fun.
5. Denver Art Museum
100 West 14th Avenue Parkway
The Denver Art Museum's gift shop is always on top of it, a store curated to be a direct reflection of the DAM's current exhibitions. The airy, first-floor retail space is a complement to the institution's collections, carrying everything from postcards, puzzles and big, glossy coffee-table books to housewares, jewelry and clothing inspired by the work on the walls. With trinkets and home-museum pieces that fit modest and big budgets alike, the DAM's gift shop is a great place to score art-minded — and Denver-centric — charms.
4. Denver Botanic Gardens
1007 York Street
Harnessing the visual impact of the Denver Botanic Gardens' themed plots of greenery, this gift shop has something for both the first-time flower admirer and the avid horticulturist. From books on gardening to wearable homages to vibrant plant life and pottery perfect for new plantings, the store is expertly curated with a tasteful mix of items for arboreal enthusiasts. Like its rotating exhibitions, sales of plants, flowers, succulents and mushrooms are scheduled throughout the year — making the Denver Botanic Gardens one of the more versatile cultural and shopping experiences in the city.
3. Molly Brown House Museum
1340 Pennsylvania Street
Dive into Denver's past at the home of Margaret Brown (she never went by "Molly"), whose storied past is filled with much more than the story of the Titanic. The home/museum of the city's unsinkable lady offers everything from turn-of-the-last-century jewelry to treasures connected to Brown's involvement in the early women's-rights movement. More than a place dedicated to a philanthropist and champion of social-justice issues, the museum's gift shop reflects Brown's pride as a resident of Denver, with a trove of Mile High-related memorabilia for purchase.
2. Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
1485 Delgany Street
Don't let modest size of MCA Denver's gift shop fool you: This place is packed with unique delights awaiting discovery. Great books on well-known artists sit beside quirkier reads by up-and-coming thinkers that are worth every visitors' attention. But the secret to this slim but breezy retail space is potential gifts with a Denver connection: MCA Denver offers everything from locally made jewelry to a tarot deck designed and produced by local artists that features the images of many creative players in the city's vibrant art scene.
1. Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2001 Colorado Boulevard
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is a glorious hodgepodge of history, science, culture and natural wonders, and its gift shop is like a miniature but mighty take-home version. Usual nature-museum-store staples like dinosaur-related toys and wearables share shelf space with tons and tons of rocks, crystals and geodes. Books, puzzles and games for all ages can be found here, too, along with one-of-a-kind paintings, calendars and other ways for explorers to display their love of global curiosity.
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Topical extensions of the gift shop have been popping up around the museum as of late, with recent displays like The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes and The Power of Poison having their own items for purchase available to guests. Just beware: Taking little ones into the jungle of fun, take-home learning tools offered by the museum store can make attempts at exiting this world of wonder futile. There's just too much cool stuff to play with, wear, read and discover at the DMNS gift shop.