Colorado Road Trip, Part 2: A Day in Denver
This summer we did something different during our Colorado road trip adventure. Instead of spending all of our time in the mountains, we decided to try a day in Denver. With just a day, we had to narrow down the many places available to explore. We decided on Meow Wolf and Denver Art Museum.
Meow Wolf — Convergence Station
When I found out they were building a Meow Wolf in Denver I was excited because I had heard great things about the original location in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Denver location of Meow Wolf is also known as Convergence Station and was created by 350 local and international artists.
Stepping inside is like entering another planet, which was done by design. The theme is multiversal travel through alien worlds. In this land of imagination, there are surprises around every corner and, unless you try to open doors, climb through holes, pull levers, and press buttons, you may not come away with the full experience.
You lose track of the outside world once you enter the “alien” environment that spans four floors in some areas. In most places it is pretty dark, accented with unusual art, lights, and sounds. In one area you feel as though you are in a treehouse environment, and in another you’ll find yourself in a castle. There is everything you can think of in between.
One of the quirkiest nooks and favorite of ours was called Pizza Pals Playzone, which is reminiscent of a 1980s or 1990s pizza establishment indoor playground experience with a side of sarcasm. No, this area didn’t serve real pizza, just as the alien hair salon doesn’t offer real haircuts. You can even walk into a movie theater and get a glimpse of an alien film being shown.
A separate and equally thrilling area of Meow Wolf in Denver is called The Perplexiplex. It is used as an immersive art experience set to music when it is not being used as a performance venue. My favorite part of our visit was watching Isabelle run and dance through this space. It was actually the first thing we did in the morning and we had the entire space to ourselves for a few brief moments. As described on their website, this space becomes a “surreal arboretum” with the walls transforming so that wall projections follow your path as well as floor projections. When the room finally filled up, it was fun to watch how different people used the space.
In my opinion, Meow Wolf in Denver is on the same level as Disney World in regards to being immaculately themed. To us, it felt like being in a video game. No photos that I have taken or exist on their website do it justice. It is something to experience for yourself. There were people of all ages — families, couples, friend groups, and individuals exploring solo. The one thing people had in common was genuine fun and an escape from reality.
One of the great takeaways from an immersive experience like this for a kid, aside from the fun, is simply stated, “everything you see here is art.”
Denver Art Museum
After a late lunch, we went to the Denver Art Museum. They offer one or two free admission days to the public each month, and we happened to land on one of those days. It is noteworthy though that all visitors 18 and under enjoy free general admission to the museum every day.
What I expected from the museum was the variety of art on display; what I did not expect was how many opportunities they would provide for kids to make their own art throughout the museum journey. We only had a few hours to spend, but could have spent much longer if we had engaged with every create-your-own station offered to us.
We started in the Landscape Studio within the Hamilton Building, which is a wide open space for families to sit and create their own masterpieces. The activity of the day was ink painting. We spent a good amount of time testing out our skills before moving on to the galleries.
In each exhibition, there were stations for children to replicate similar styles of art to what they were seeing. One particular exhibition, Her Brush: Japanese Women Artists from the Fong-Johnstone Collection not only incorporated do-it-yourself art, but also poems to collect from ornate wooden boxes placed throughout the gallery. For Isabelle, it became a treasure hunt. The path out of the gallery contained a large, interactive screen to simulate ink on a page using the person as the brush.
Toward the end of our visit we enjoyed time in the Creative Hub, which is a 5,000+ square foot space designed to promote gathering and creativity. In this space, we found guided prompts to create art with plenty of materials to do so. In yet another area called Family Central, kids can dress in costumes and build sculptures.
Other things to do in Denver
If you just so happen to be in Denver, there are plenty of other things to do besides Meow Wolf and Denver Art Museum. We plan to check these places off our list in the future:
- Children’s Museum of Denver
- Denver Museum of Nature and Science
- Downtown Aquarium
- Denver Botanic Gardens