Founded almost a decade ago, just as storytelling shows were beginning to surge in popularity, the Narrators began as an intimate and ephemeral gathering full of true tales told by local writers, actors, comedians, musicians and other performers. In the years since, two of the long-running show's venues have closed, and the original hosts have been replaced by Ron Doyle and Erin Rollman, but the event's spirit has only grown more fierce with time. Now ensconced at Buntport Theater, The Narrators crew has embarked on a series of ambitious collaborations with such outfits as the Denver Art Museum, High Plains Comedy Festival, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the Denver Film Festival. Whether you choose to join the crowd or listen at home, each episode offers a full range of feels.

thenarrators.org

Move over, Kit Carson, Zebulon Pike, William Larimer, John Evans, William Byers, Horace Tabor and all the other men, good and bad, remembered in Colorado history books: It's about time Colorado women were given their due. Last year, History Colorado opened the Center for Colorado Women's History in the Byers-Evans House Museum, and it does much more than name names. The center conducts scholarly research, hosts in-depth exhibits and lectures, offers special tours and, above all, tells the story of how women have contributed to Colorado. Welcome to the club, Frances Wisebart Jacobs, Justina Ford, Florence Sabin, Mistanta, Minnie Reynolds Scalabrino and all the others who've helped shape our state.

Molly Brown House Museum
Molly Brown House Museum

First-time visitors to Denver are often surprised to find that the city isn't actually in the mountains and that cows aren't grazing in the grass. Want to give them another bite of the reality sandwich? Take them to the Molly Brown House Museum. This is actually where Margaret Brown lived at the turn of the last century, after she and her husband, Johnny, made their fortune in Leadville and before she became an international legend for surviving the sinking of the Titanic. By then, though, Margaret had already made a name for herself (never Molly, by the way) in Denver, fighting for the rights of the poor, of children and of women; she even considered a run for Senate. Her home-turned-museum will give your house guests the real story on this local heroine, and also a glimpse into how a dedicated group of residents saved the structure in 1970, going on to create Historic Denver and preserve much more of this city's past.

Readers' Choice: Denver Art Museum

MCA Denver
JC Buck

Many museums exhibit the same work year after year. The first time you visit, the displays are stunning; after that, not so much. At the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, bold exhibits change frequently, showing challenging work of all types. One day you might see tattooed lemons; another, you might be dwarfed by a sculpture made of Slinkys. In addition to the galleries, the museum offers concerts by local and national artists, standup comics serving as docents, and endlessly fascinating lectures, culinary events and more. You can even enter a lottery as part of the museum's Octopus Initiative, an art-lending library, and if you're lucky, take home work by a local artist to keep for a year.

Readers' Choice: Denver Art Museum

Clyfford Still Museum
Courtesy Clyfford Still Museum Facebook page

A temple to a legendary abstract expressionist filled with grandiose paintings and austere artistic observations, the Clyfford Still Museum is an unlikely place to host a grin-inducing music series. But with its free summer concerts, the institution definitely delivers. Organized by Swallow Hill Music, past performances have included such artists as Red Baraat, Sean Rowe, Dustbowl Revival and Juno What?!. On a summer night, there's no better place to enjoy live bands, dance with children and elders alike, then step inside for a quick trip through galleries, seeing works by a painter whose style nearly matches music in its ability to capture experiences beyond language.

Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Aaron Thackeray

A trip to most museums lasts no longer than, what, two hours? But a visit to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science can be an all-day affair, thanks to increasingly intriguing programming and its IMAX theater. Since the museum is an educational institution, the films aren't always the standard action/adventures that do so well on the big screen. The Phipps IMAX Theater tends to show documentaries that dive into the inner workings of our planet, focusing on everything from oceans to dogs, and tickets are about half the price of those for an IMAX show elsewhere. Blowing your kid's mind for under $10? Worth every penny.

As galleries and cooperatives found themselves increasingly priced out of Denver in recent years, they started scouting for other options, and often found themselves settling in Lakewood, a town that welcomed them with open arms...and occasionally an open pocketbook. That's the result of the 40 West Arts District, a state-certified creative district along Colfax Avenue that's been working hard to promote the strip as a vibrant cultural and economic destination, full of creative shops, studios and galleries that add up to a helluva party on First Friday. Soon to join the lineup: the Colfax Museum, which had to move from its home on East Colfax when that building was sold and now, nine months later, is almost ready to debut in its new home on West Colfax. Go west, young artist.

Readers' Choice: Art District on Santa Fe

Art District on Santa Fe

On the first Friday of every month, Denver's Art District on Santa Fe turns into an arty party. Dozens of galleries, shops, studios and co-ops open their doors during the First Friday Art Walks to both art lovers and those who just want to join the crowd. That crowd often numbers in the thousands as people traipse along Santa Fe, stopping to talk, listen to music, grab a snack from a food truck (or pop into one of the strip's restaurants), and sometimes even look at art. The action stretches a dozen blocks south from 13th Avenue; a must-stop is the new home of the Chicano Humanities & Arts Council, at 222 Santa Fe, for a refresher course on Santa Fe's historic role as the focal point for Denver's Latino culture.

Public art in Denver tends to be supersized — so supersized that grandeur no longer seems so grand. Belgian artist Jaune, whose paintings of tiny construction workers appeared on walls up and down Brighton Boulevard during the 2018 Crush Walls festival, offers a refreshing take on public street art: one that is not meant for drivers, but rather people actually walking the streets. When you spot them, the pieces surprise and delight, but they're also reminding you that the growth Denver is experiencing isn't happening by magic. Real workers are building up the city, and in his own tiny way, Jaune is honoring them — with a healthy dose of playfulness.

Readers' Choice: Crush Walls 2018

If you're cruising the back streets of the Elyria neighborhood in north Denver, this artist house is easy to spot. It's a colorfully patterned muralistic masterpiece, augmented by painted stones and flower pots, organically placed in arrangements around the yard, with additional artifacts and found objects to fill in the spaces. In a city of McMansions and fugly slot homes, we always brake for creativity. You should, too.

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