The Adirondack chairs in the children's wing of the Denver Public Library, designed by Michael Graves and constructed of sturdy curly maple, are ample enough for two small readers or one adult plus one in-lap guest. Surrounded by a cozy world of books -- not to mention views of Civic Center Park and that horse-on-a-big-chair whatzit -- this is the perfect place for childish or grown-up contemplation.

At places like UCAR in Boulder, there's nothing mindless or even casual about talking about the weather. UCAR researchers are dead serious, in fact, when it comes to the climatological vagaries of living in the world, and they've put together a dandy, prize-winning, kid-tested weather Web site for young 'uns. Log on to Web Weather for Kids and follow the dancing raindrop -- it'll lead you to all kinds of information and related experiments on weather phenomena. It's a great way to engage a young mind on, well, a rainy day.
At places like UCAR in Boulder, there's nothing mindless or even casual about talking about the weather. UCAR researchers are dead serious, in fact, when it comes to the climatological vagaries of living in the world, and they've put together a dandy, prize-winning, kid-tested weather Web site for young 'uns. Log on to Web Weather for Kids and follow the dancing raindrop -- it'll lead you to all kinds of information and related experiments on weather phenomena. It's a great way to engage a young mind on, well, a rainy day.
You can't keep a nine-year-old away from the Internet forever, but you can steer the little surfer in a good direction: At www.wackykids.org, she'll find nothing but good, clean fun -- all with the added attraction of being painlessly educational. Featuring four clickable areas of interest that draw content from museum collections -- The World of Japan's Samurai Warrior, Maya Rainforest Dwellers, Northwest Coast Indian Carving and Fancy and Fun Chairs -- the site offers various activities centered around each, including a reading list, interactive exploration of the subject and print-out craft projects. And next time your kid visits the museum in person, she'll recognize a few friends, to boot.
You can't keep a nine-year-old away from the Internet forever, but you can steer the little surfer in a good direction: At www.wackykids.org, she'll find nothing but good, clean fun -- all with the added attraction of being painlessly educational. Featuring four clickable areas of interest that draw content from museum collections -- The World of Japan's Samurai Warrior, Maya Rainforest Dwellers, Northwest Coast Indian Carving and Fancy and Fun Chairs -- the site offers various activities centered around each, including a reading list, interactive exploration of the subject and print-out craft projects. And next time your kid visits the museum in person, she'll recognize a few friends, to boot.
Those kooky visionaries Bill and Judy Petersen-Fleming didn't need to put up a glitzy building for their new-age-style aquarium, Colorado's Ocean Journey, but they did, hiring the specially created architectural firm Odyssea, which put forward a design by the able Ron Mason of Denver's Anderson Mason Dale. Nor did the creators of the private facility need to put in a public-art component, but again, they did. And that's laudable, as is the art they selected (not a single bronze dolphin!). Instead, everything inside and out is abstract and as up-to-date as the glittering building itself. All of the art is good, but the multi-part installation "Full Fathom Five" is great. Created by Connecticut artist Tim Prentice, the wall- and ceiling-hung installations, made of shiny steel tubes and aluminum sheeting, match perfectly the futuristic mood of the architecture while referring to the sea: Made up of hundreds of tiny squares of metal, the sculptures move gently, like swimming fish. Colorado's Ocean Journey has had some trouble with credibility in its first year, but although animal activists -- and the institution's own volunteers -- may be carping, there's nothing but praise for the art that's on display.

Readers' choice: "Ground Beef," Burns Park

Those kooky visionaries Bill and Judy Petersen-Fleming didn't need to put up a glitzy building for their new-age-style aquarium, Colorado's Ocean Journey, but they did, hiring the specially created architectural firm Odyssea, which put forward a design by the able Ron Mason of Denver's Anderson Mason Dale. Nor did the creators of the private facility need to put in a public-art component, but again, they did. And that's laudable, as is the art they selected (not a single bronze dolphin!). Instead, everything inside and out is abstract and as up-to-date as the glittering building itself. All of the art is good, but the multi-part installation "Full Fathom Five" is great. Created by Connecticut artist Tim Prentice, the wall- and ceiling-hung installations, made of shiny steel tubes and aluminum sheeting, match perfectly the futuristic mood of the architecture while referring to the sea: Made up of hundreds of tiny squares of metal, the sculptures move gently, like swimming fish. Colorado's Ocean Journey has had some trouble with credibility in its first year, but although animal activists -- and the institution's own volunteers -- may be carping, there's nothing but praise for the art that's on display.

Readers' choice: "Ground Beef," Burns Park

The big blockbuster show, once a rarity, is now common fare at the Denver Art Museum, the Colorado History Museum, the museum formerly known as the Denver Museum of Natural History, and even the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Well, they need to beef up those attendance numbers, don't they? Among these big shows, one stands out above the others: the recently closed Matisse From the Baltimore Museum of Art at the Denver Art Museum. The show highlighted the collection of a pair of wealthy lesbian spinsters, Dr. Claribel and Miss Etta Cone, who put together a major selection of Matisse paintings, some purchased directly from the master himself. Not surprisingly, among the Matisses bought by the Cones were those that took up the topic of the female nude. First among these is the "Blue Nude" from 1907, which means that aside from being the best major show this past year, Matisse also featured the best painting to have ever been exhibited in Colorado.

Readers' choice: Matisse From the Baltimore Museum of Art

The big blockbuster show, once a rarity, is now common fare at the Denver Art Museum, the Colorado History Museum, the museum formerly known as the Denver Museum of Natural History, and even the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Well, they need to beef up those attendance numbers, don't they? Among these big shows, one stands out above the others: the recently closed Matisse From the Baltimore Museum of Art at the Denver Art Museum. The show highlighted the collection of a pair of wealthy lesbian spinsters, Dr. Claribel and Miss Etta Cone, who put together a major selection of Matisse paintings, some purchased directly from the master himself. Not surprisingly, among the Matisses bought by the Cones were those that took up the topic of the female nude. First among these is the "Blue Nude" from 1907, which means that aside from being the best major show this past year, Matisse also featured the best painting to have ever been exhibited in Colorado.

Readers' choice: Matisse From the Baltimore Museum of Art

Best political use of an art show to get a bigger building

Impressionism Denver Art Museum

Last November, the Denver Art Museum asked voters for a $60 million-plus capital-improvement bond to pay for the construction of a new, freestanding wing. So how could the DAM make the case that it needed the money because it was too damned small? Museum helmsman Lewis Sharp went out and scored Impressionism, a traveling show that broke all of the museum's previous attendance records with more than a quarter of a million visitors craning their necks to see Monets, Cassatts, Gauguins and Van Goghs that had come from museums all over Europe. Denver art enthusiasts not only crowded the Hamilton Galleries on the main floor, but they crowded the rest of the museum as well, and Acoma Plaza outside, and they paralyzed traffic on the West 14th Avenue Parkway. And, yes, they also went out and gave the DAM a landslide in its bond election. The political maneuvering through exhibition scheduling was just the first in a series of brilliant moves on Sharp's part. Another was his decision to look for a master architect to design a world-class building, just as the DAM had done before when it built its current 1971 edifice, which was designed by Italian legend Gio Ponti with local genius James Sudler. Thanks to Impressionism, that new DAM wing will surely be one of the best new buildings to rise on the Denver skyline in decades.

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