Best Immersive Museum 2021 | Museum for Black Girls | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Courtesy of the Museum for Black Girls

Black girls become Black women, an idea not lost on Denverite Charlie Billingsley, who embraces the "Black Girl Magic" ideal and believes that the confidence and resilience it manifests has roots in girlhoods spent surrounded by a strong community. That's what convinced her to call upon other Black women artists and creatives to help build the Museum for Black Girls, a joyful reflection on supportive culture and role models, with lots of opportunity for positive reflection and proud selfies. The pop-up is still going strong after opening its second iteration in February.

Courtesy of the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys

After a two-year hibernation in storage, the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys debuted in its new Lakewood home last August, unveiling more spacious, up-to-date digs, with the promise of even more space opening to the public as funds allow. With a collection of over 20,000 objects, albeit tiny ones, the museum can use every inch of space — for bigger exhibits, workshops, meeting rooms and other DMMDT business. In the meantime, you can help keep the museum moving forward by visiting and viewing dollhouses, exquisite miniatures and trendy toys that have languished in storage for years, as well as some DMMDT favorites.

MCA Denver

In the post-Adam Lerner world of MCA Denver, recent hire Miranda Lash — the museum's Ellen Bruss Senior Curator — comes to the MCA from earlier roles at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, and the New Orleans Museum of Art, bringing a fresh eye for diversity. Of Latinx heritage, Lash not only brings an understanding of Colorado's deeply rooted Chicano culture, but one that makes room for everyone, including LGBTIA artists and artists of color. What she does with those skills remains to be seen (new director Nora Burnett Abrams curated MCA's current shows), but we're expecting big things.

Artist Adrienne DeLoe was feeling deflated by inactivity a year ago and started the Pandemic Self-Portraits Project as a way to get busy. The concept quickly went global, and today it presents as a diverse visual diary of how artists everywhere were feeling in a single moment, and how they each dealt with the same familiar issues. Turns out everyone really is completely different from everyone else. The project will live on, archived by DeLoe in a book she's preparing for publication as soon as June; watch her Instagram for updates.
Aaron Thackeray

Tourists of all ages will find something to like at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Enjoy an out-of-this-world experience at the recently remodeled Space Odyssey, or take a trip into the past at shows about ancient Egypt, Stonehenge, dinosaurs and more. You can also explore blockbuster exhibitions, IMAX movies and a virtual-reality arcade — then grab a bite in the cafeteria and buy gifts for your friends in the well-stocked shop. After you're done at the museum, take a stroll around City Park — or make it a double-feature day with a trip to the neighboring Denver Zoo.

Upending the entire concept of an art museum from the moment it was founded, Black Cube Nomadic stays free from the confines of the white-cube gallery walls as it exhibits ambitious public-art projects, from sculptures to performances, in town and beyond. While the nonprofit has deep ties to Colorado artists and gives them an international platform, it also brings in lesser-known creatives to do site-specific installations in uncanny spaces. Executive director and curator Cortney Lane Stell ensures that the programming is challenging, sophisticated and smart, and encourages dialogue between artists and the community along the way, using her museum to forever change the sites that Black Cube activates, delivering a fresh and provocative experience every time.

Every neighborhood business district seems to have an art walk these days, but you might not know that Five Points has one, too, along the Welton Street corridor. Sponsored by the Five Points Atlas and Vibe Palace, it's deliberately small and neighborly, featuring work by a changing selection of Black artists from the community installed inside cafes, salons and other small businesses along the street. Catch the art walk on the third Wednesday of every month, from 4 to 8 p.m.; it's fabulous and free.

Colorful Colorado didn't earn that moniker because of the murals and street art that cover the walls of so much of the state — but it could have. And it's that art that the Colorado Tourism Office and Colorado Creative Industries have begun to document statewide, creating a series of travel itineraries across various regions under the name Mural Trails. The state recommends popular public art, from Gregg Deal's "MMIWG2S" in Boulder to Carlos Sandoval's "Sierras y Colores" in San Luis, and couples it with suggestions for lodging and dining in various regions. What are you waiting for? Road trip!

You hate tours. When you go to a new city, you want to see it through the eyes of a native, and not necessarily in a hip way, though a touch of glamour doesn't hurt. That's the type of adventure that Treasure Box managed to create online during the pandemic, and it recently released its 2021 Treasure Map of possible in-person tours so tempting that even natives might want to join in. Neighborhoods, history, museums, community gardens, food, main drags and day hikes are just some of the directions in which Treasure Box tour guides will take you.

In the early days of the pandemic, when partners Susannah and Chloe McLeod were stuck at home, Susannah began documenting — and mocking — how their lives started changing (and their hygiene began disintegrating) week by week, in a satiric series of photographs. They won so many fans that the couple published a book, Quarantine Week by Weak, which they sold in a benefit for the Denver Actors Fund, established in 2013 to provide immediate assistance for members of the Colorado theater community. When COVID-19 arrived, the DAF set up a separate relief effort, the Denver Emergency Relief Fund, which distributed tens of thousands of dollars to artists who'd lost jobs when shows were postponed or canceled by the shutdown.

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