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An Exploration of Outdoor Art

Over the last few decades, Denver has become an even more interesting destination for art lovers. And as one of the sunniest cities in the country, Denver has a lot of great outdoor and public art, much of which is in a day’s good walk. A great way to spend a day getting to know Denver with the kids is to take a (long-ish) walk through Denver, checking out the art, and enjoying the scenes along the way.

Start: Denver Public Library & Denver Art Museum

The Denver Public Library and the Denver Art Museum (DAM) next door are pieces of art unto themselves. Just outside the Denver art museum you’ll find the sculpture “The Yearling,” a red chair with a life size horse on top. Next door, the DAM’s The Hamilton building juts out jaggedly along the sky scape. The building was completed in 2006, and the metallic exterior and unique shape are interesting viewed from the outside or within. While most of the art is housed indoors, there are a number of great installations outside the museum as well. Just outside the museum are two rather large works of art, the “Big Sweep,” a giant broom and dustpan and the “Scottish Angus Cow and Calf.” However, there are a number of other sculptures outside the building, and locations and descriptions of these pieces can be found here.

Next Stop: Denver Performing Arts Complex and Colorado Convention Center

The Denver Performing Arts Complex (DPAC) is the prime spot in Denver to catch a play, opera, musical or hit Broadway show. And while the building itself is unique and beautiful, your destination is just outside the building on the lawn facing Speer. Here you will find two fifty foot tall dancers, frolicking in front of the building to the sound of music.

After enjoying the dance, walk next door to the convention center to find the blue bear, which is actually titled “I See What You Mean.” The bear is located on the opposite side of the building just off of 14th street and stands roughly 40 feet tall, peering into the building. This particular installation is sure to be a hit with kids as they can walk around and through the bear’s legs.

Final Leg: Down 16th Street and over to the Highlands

Walking down Sixteenth Street Mall typically provides ample opportunities for people watching, but there are also a number of pieces of art to see along the way. Throughout the pedestrian mall there are “art pianos” which are painted pianos that people can play, a blue cow (a remnant from when Denver hosted the Parade of Cows in 2006), and a number of other unique pieces of art. There are also numerous places to stop and grab a coffee, a bite to eat, and places to shop along the way.

Once you hit the end of the pedestrian mall, you will head over to the Highland Bridge, which connects Downtown Denver to the Highlands neighborhood. On the other side of the bridge you will find “National Velvet,” a large sculpture of plastic tubes painted red. If returning to downtown Denver, consider taking the Millennium Bridge to catch a different view and enjoy Union Station. If you want to head a bit further uphill to the Highlands, be sure to stop at Little Man Ice Cream for a tasty delight!

With so many beautiful days, there are ample opportunities to get outside and stretch your legs. Enjoy getting to know Denver a bit better and get a closer look at some of the wonderful outdoor art along the way. For more information or to see other installations available on or near this path, visit the downtown guide of public art.

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