Borrowing an idea that has been wildly successful in Europe, Denver will host its sixth annual Night at the Museums, an evening where 22 of the city’s top museums will stay open late and open their doors for free. What started in Paris, has now spread across Europe with 3,000 museums participating this year in the European Night of the Museums,” says Richard Scharf, president & CEO of VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“So many families want to visit a museum together, but between work and school, it’s often hard to find the time,” Scharf said. “By staying open all evening on a Saturday night and offering all our museums for free, we create a special event that’s great for families, or a unique date night, or just a time to get out and see a new museum you have never experienced before,” Scharf said.
Since many of the museums are in clusters, it’s possible to museum-hop all evening. “You can visit the new History Colorado Center, walk across the street to the Denver Art Museum, peek into the new adjacent Clyfford Still Museum, cross the street to the Byers-Evans House Museum, and stroll three blocks to the Molly Brown House, all for free,” Scharf said.
To make it even easier to enjoy the evening, there are free shuttle buses that make a continuous loop, connecting downtown museums to several outlying ones, including the famous Denver Museum of Nature & Science (the fourth largest science museum in the U.S.); the Black American West Museum (where re-enactors will tell the stories of Black cowboys and Buffalo Soldiers); the Denver Botanic Gardens (where a special exhibit of Japanese bamboo sculptures, Kizuna: West Meets East, will be illuminated along with other gardens and fountains); and the Forney Museum of Transportation (where the museum is lit by the headlamps of antique cars and trains).
Other communities in metro Denver have also joined in. The nearby town of Golden will keep their lights on at the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, and the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, among others. At nearby Dinosaur Ridge (the site of the first discovery of dinosaur bones), for a small fee, you can take a tour of dinosaur tracks by flashlight, while the Littleton Museum will open their Living History Farm by lantern light with costumed re-enactors.
Many of the museums will have special events. Local band “I Sank Molly Brown” will be rocking at the Molly Brown House Museum to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking. Actors representing Vincent Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec will be at the Denver Art Museum to promote the Becoming Van Gogh exhibit which opens October 21. (The Becoming Van Gogh exhibit does require paid admission, however discounted tickets will be available during Night at the Museums). Becoming Van Gogh hotel packages with VIP, skip-the-line tickets are also available throughout the duration of the exhibit.
Night at the Museums is part of Denver Arts Week, a 9-day celebration of the arts in The Mile High City, Nov. 2-10. Arts Week begins with Know Your Arts First Friday on Nov. 2, in which dozens of galleries stay open late in seven different Denver neighborhoods – many of them offering bands, artist demonstrations, food trucks and art for a special “Mile High” price. (Denver is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level – one mile high).
Denver Arts Week also includes special ticket prices and other discounts for theatre, symphony, opera and dance performances, and even special hotel deals. The 35th annual Starz Film Festival, the region’s largest celebration of cinema, takes place Nov. 1-11, over the same time period.
The cultural week finishes with a flurry at The Sights and Sounds of Cherry Creek North on Saturday, Nov. 10, a day-long celebration with live music, performing arts, artist exhibitions, art shows and educational activities.
“Arts and culture is a major part of Denver’s brand, and while we market to locals and visitors year-round through our online events calendar, Denver365, Night at the Museums and Denver Arts Week gives a chance to show locals and visitors just how much the arts scene has changed in Denver in recent years,” Scharf said. “It’s also a lot of fun.”