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In May 2023, the Denver Art Museum concluded its multi-year effort to reinvent a trio of collections in its permanent galleries and showcase work that hadn't been seen in years. There's the Modern and Contemporary Art collection, which covers 108 years of history with 145 works. The Arts of Africa collection comprises 800 works from a variety of countries, with some pieces hundreds of years old and others contemporary. The Arts of Oceania collection, meanwhile, involves works in a variety of genres from all major island groupings. And while polishing its collections, the museum has continued hosting must-see exhibitions, including Desert Rider, which examined lowrider culture in Colorado and the Southwest.

The Museum of Contemporary Art has earned a reputation for exhibiting works that make visitors think in new ways. This year, the MCA turned a critical eye toward the archetype of the American cowboy in its show Cowboy, which included both loans and new commissions from 27 artists across the globe, including Asian American, Latinx and Native perspectives. The museum also looked at the American South through the lens of Black artists in the acclaimed traveling exhibition The Dirty South. Both shows exemplified how this museum continues to bring fresh perspectives to the city.

Eight local muralists painted across downtown Boulder for a series called Celebrating Colorado's Black Street Artists, produced by Street Wise Arts and the Museum of Boulder to go along with the museum's exhibition Proclaiming Colorado's Black History. Thomas "Detour" Evans, Yazz Atmore, Jahna Rae, Rob Hill, Marcus Murray, Devin "Speaks" Urioste, Jasmine Holmes-Piesco and Selah Laurel all created murals that reflected the exhibit's theme of Black history in the state. The exhibit, which was two years in the making, is on view through September 2025. 

It's fun when relatives visit, but finding a place in the Mile High City that will please dear old Dad can sometimes be a tricky task. This nearly seventy-year-old transportation history museum near the Coliseum (the museum's original home is now the REI flagship store) is at your service. Dad will enjoy the old-timey cars at the Forney, and the look of childlike wonder on his face when he gets to climb into the Union Pacific Big Boy is well worth the $17 admission fee.

Marco Briones

Museo de las Americas has been a staple of the Art District on Santa Fe for more than three decades. From First Friday celebrations in its intimate gallery space to Day of the Dead festivities that take to the streets outside the hot-pink stucco building, the Museo offers an immersion in Chicano culture. It also has a wide variety of programs, from workshops for schools and groups to mural tours, public gatherings and discussions, to special options for members.

Latino Cultural Arts Center founder Adrianna Abarca donated warehouse spaces at 1935 West 12th Avenue to the nonprofit, and after significant fundraising, including a gift of $2.5 million in congressional spending pushed by Senator Michael Bennet and $1.9 million from Colorado Creative Industries, LCAC is planning to fill the space with Las Bodegas. An intergenerational creative hub, Las Bodegas will include digital and visual arts programs, including LCAC's Day of the Dead Ofrendas project and a mentorship setup for burgeoning artists.

The Chicano Humanities and Arts Council received the gift of a lifetime this year: Kyle Schneider, the son of late artist Katherine Payge, gave his mother's gallery building at 834 Santa Fe Drive to CHAC. The nonprofit, which began in north Denver in 1978 and moved to the Art District on Santa Fe in 1986, was priced out of that neighborhood in 2022. While CHAC will maintain its space in the 40 West Arts District in Lakewood, the gallery on Santa Fe not only allows more engagement with Denver, but marks a sentimental return to its original community in the city's historically Chicano neighborhood.

The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art is named for Vance Kirkland, the iconic Colorado artist who came to Denver in 1929 as the founding director of the University of Denver's School of Art. While the museum is known for its expansive collection that includes artists of note from this state and beyond, its 2023 Kirkland retrospective, Vance Kirkland's Cosmos, was a revelation, showing how the artist moved from landscapes and surrealism to expressionism and radical modernism. The museum also unveiled several never-before-seen works by the late master.

William Havu once had rock-star dreams, even performing with Jimi Hendrix in 1967, but luckily for Denver, he became a gallerist and staunch supporter of the local arts. His career has now passed the five-decade mark, which he celebrated with a retrospective show at his Golden Triangle gallery that highlighted the wide variety of artists he represents: Sushe and Tracy Felix, Tony Ortega, Emilio Lobato and more. Havu has been integral to the city's growing art scene, and From All Angles: Fifty Years in the Art Business showed just how indispensable he is.

Best Longstanding Gallery With Museum-Worthy Exhibits

Robischon Gallery

The Robischon Gallery has been a beacon for the city's arts community since it opened on Wazee Street in 1982, back when LoDo was just becoming a hub for the arts. And it goes back even further than that: Jim Robischon originally founded his gallery as Blue Door II on Parker Road in 1976. While many other galleries moved from LoDo after Coors Field opened in 1995, Robischon has remained for four decades, a testament to the museum-quality exhibitions mounted there throughout the year, usually highlighting multiple artists at once. Sleek, contemporary paintings and more mind-boggling works await in this art lover's paradise, where you're always sure to discover something new.

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