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10 Must-See Public Art Spaces in Colorado

Colorado’s thriving art community is the perfect home for the RMCAD campus. There are artists’ enclaves across the front range and well into the Rocky Mountains. From the sculpture foundries of Loveland, to the art markets of Manitou Springs and Boulder’s Pearl Street, there is a lot of art to love around the state. Join us as RMCAD takes you on a virtual tour of 10 of our favorite Colorado public art spaces.

Importance of Public Art Spaces

The role of artwork is to inspire and breed creative thinking, so art must be available to everyone. Public art spaces play an important role in starting a dialogue within a community because they focus on creating shared experiences. Because public art spaces are designed to be accessible to everyone, they are often free, but not always as in the case of many museums. Take the Statue of Liberty, one of the most iconic works of public art in the world. It is not only a feat in creativity and engineering, but has become a unifying landmark by which the people of the United States associate their national identity.

Benefits For The Community

Public art spaces have a long history of gathering communities both figuratively and literally. Their benefit to a community may be as complex as shared values as in the case of the Statue of Liberty or simply geographical shorthand (ex. “Go north until you see the mural of Rosa Parks and then take a left”). Either way, there is a shared understanding that public art builds, providing members of a community a way to communicate, debate, and reconcile their thoughts.

Denver Art Museum

Founded in 1893 with the assistance of Anne Evans, the Denver Art Museum (DAM) is one of the largest and most respected art museums west of the Mississippi. According to their website, they house more than 70,000 works from around the world, ranging anywhere from paintings to textiles. Located near the heart of downtown Denver, DAM is the perfect destination for the whole family. Don’t miss their free attendance for children under the age of 18, as well as free days for all guests.

Red Rocks Amphitheater

Widely considered the best concert venue in Colorado, if not the world, Red Rocks Amphitheater brings some of the most popular touring artists from around the globe to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Morrison, Colorado. The astounding red sedimentary rocks serve not only as a feast for the eyes, but also provide incredible acoustics for concertgoers. Additionally, the venue is free to enter during the day for tourists, nature lovers, and joggers alike to enjoy the space’s beauty.

Rino Art District

If you’re a city dweller looking to enjoy a cup of artisan coffee while perusing boutiques and murals, then the River-North (RiNo) Art District is the place for you! Once the industry capital of Denver, Ri-No is now a thriving, walkable community with a “stay wild” mentality. This Denver Public art space is easily accessible via public transportation on Denver’s A-line. The RiNo Arts District website lists 110 recognized murals within their community and 47 restaurants, bars, and cafes, all within a one-mile radius. With new deals and special offers being updated every month, this is a neighborhood you want to return to. 

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCa) was founded in 1972, and for more than 50 years has been an attractive exhibition space for local and international artists. BMoCa is big on community outreach. Take the example of their ongoing program, SPARK!, which is designed to provide guests who have early-stage dementia and Alzheimer’s with greater accessibility and appreciation for the exhibits at BMoCa. Through programs like these, The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art makes important and lasting connections with the Boulder community.

Denver International Airport

You might not expect to find high-quality artwork at the Denver International Airport (DIA), but if you’re flying into DIA, you might want to wander through the airport before you leave. Inside the airport, you can find the thought-provoking works of muralist Leo Tanguma, whose series of murals have left viewers theorizing about their meaning since DIA opened in 1995. The airport’s most famous piece, Blue Mustang by Luis Jimenez, is just outside the airport. The statue has been lovingly nicknamed “Blucifer” by the locals because of its glowing red eyes.

Garden of the Gods

There’s no place for inspiration like the great outdoors, which is why we think you’ll love the Garden of the Gods! This 1,367-acre park was donated to the city of Colorado Springs with the stipulation that it remained free to enter for the public. Garden of the Gods is now home to all sorts of informational exhibits that educate visitors on the park’s geology, local flora and fauna, and the Theiophytalia Kerri, a dinosaur whose one-of-a-kind fossil was found in the park. The park is also home to 16 hiking trails, providing a broad spectrum of lengths and elevation gains, making it the perfect destination for both experienced and novice hikers.

Aspen Art Museum

The Aspen Art Museum is not only home to many beautiful pieces of art but is a work of art itself. The woven metal exterior resembles a knit textile, designed by architect Shigeru Ban. The Aspen Art Museum has been serving the Rocky Mountain community since 1979 guided by the values of Inquiry, Immediacy, and Innovation. You can enjoy the works of today’s artists by exploring the museum’s digital tour guide available via a free mobile app, and then grab a latte at the rooftop cafe! Did we mention that admission is free?

Fort Collins Museum of Art

MoA Fort Collins has a particular focus on art education, no matter your age! The museum offers after-school programs, guest lectures, and a workshop series. These education programs are funded in part by a unique fundraiser that the museum has been doing since 2004. Each year, the museum commissions more than 200 artists to create unique masks that the museum then sells, raising funds while supporting local talent.

Colorado Riverfront Trail

The Colorado Riverfront Trail is a 22-mile-long path that snakes through the three western-slope communities of Palisade, Grand Junction, and Fruita. Following the path of the Colorado River, this paved trail is easily accessible from I-70. Once you have gotten your fix of the river, enjoy another small walk in one of the downtown communities, locally known for its vineyards and wineries. Additionally, you won’t want to miss galleries in this area that capture western Colorado’s beauty through photography, painting, and more!

Durango Arts Center

Colorado’s bustling arts scene extends far south into the four-corners region as demonstrated by the Durango Arts Center (DAC). DAC’s mission is to enrich “the community through innovative visual and performing art, and arts education.” For as low as $60 a year, DAC members are invited to opening receptions, receive reciprocal membership access to over 1000 other museums/cultural spaces, and discounts on classes and shop items.

We have only just scratched the surface of the beauty and talent that is being fostered in Colorado’s art scene. Public art spaces are an important part of any community and allow us to better understand the community. We hope this blog has encouraged you to get out and explore some of the art spaces in your community—no matter where you are located!

Learn More About RMCAD!

If you would like to get involved and join RMCAD’s community, then register for RMCAD’s events newsletter, and never miss a virtual or in-person event or exhibition! To learn more about Colorado public art spaces on the RMCAD campus, see our blog 4 Incredible Sculptures on the RMCAD

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