Public Art Walking Tour
Great art isn’t just in museums in Denver. All over the city, you’ll find gorgeous murals, whimsical sculptures and other kinds of public art that will delight and inspire.
Denver’s Public Art Program directs that 1 percent of any capital improvement project over $1 million be set aside for the inclusion of art in the design and construction of these projects. Over the past 18 years, Denver has installed more than 150 works of art under this program. A large amount of the city’s public art can be found Downtown and in the Golden Triangle Cultural District – here’s a walking tour of the area that will take you to some of the best and most beloved pieces.
Denver Art Museum
100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy.
There's plenty of amazing visual art inside the Denver Art Museum, but as you walk around this Mile High City landmark, you'll find several amazing artworks. There's the painted steel of Mark di Suvero's Lao Tzu, Coosje Van Brugen and Claes Oldenberg's aptly-named giant-sized broom and dustpan, The Big Sweep, and Dan Ostermiller's lifelike (but also giant-sized) Scottish Angus Cow and Calf, just to name a few. Take a half hour or so to explore the grounds, take some pictures and enjoy these amazing creations.
Denver Public Library
10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy.
Just a few steps from the Denver Art Museum is the Denver Central Library, one of the greatest public libraries in the country, and home to several stunning public artworks. Inside, check out Edward Ruscha's amazing murals. Outside, you'll gape at Donald Lipski's The Yearling, featuring a life-size horse perched atop an enormous red chair. Also don't miss Barry Rose's fun At The Library piece, featuring hundreds of ceramic books.
Civic Center Park
101 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy.
Continue walking past the library and you'll find yourself in Civic Center Park, a lovely oasis in the midst of Downtown Denver's urban setting. All over the park there are wonderful pieces of vintage public art, from Frederick MacMonnies' inspiring Pioneer Fountain (installed in 1911) to Robert Garrison's Sea Lions Fountain (1922) to the iconic Bronco Buster, created by Alexander Phimister Proctor in 1920.
The 16th Street Mall
16th St. from Wewatta Street to the intersection of 16th Avenue and Broadway
Across Colfax Street from Civic Center Park, you'll find yourself at the tip of the 16th Street Mall, one of Denver's most popular attractions for dining, shopping, people watching - and public art almost everywhere you look. There are too many wonderful pieces to list here, but just keep your eyes open for such artworks as the chess tables between Arapahoe and Lawrence Streets, the King & Queen (giant-sized chess pieces) outside Market Street Station and the herd of brightly colored cows that populate the sidewalks between Larimer and Market Streets. The mall itself, designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, is a work of art in and of itself, with a pattern of granite blocks that make up the transit lanes and sidewalks mimicking the skin of a Western Diamondback rattlesnake.
Colorado Convention Center
700 14th St.
While you're making your way down the 16th Street Mall (either by foot or on the free shuttle buses that go up and down the mall), make a side trip down California Street over to the Colorado Convention Center. The CCC is home to "I See What You Mean," AKA the Blue Bear that peers into the Center's interior. Created by Colorado-based artist Lawrence Argent, the curious bear stands 40 feet tall - you can walk under it and get a great photo.
Denver Performing Arts Complex
1245 Champa St.
Around the corner from the Convention Center, at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, you'll encounter Jonathan Borofsky's immense fiberglass Dancers, two 50-foot high humanoid beings cavorting on the lawn in front of the complex. There's even music piped in 24 hours a day, so you can join in with their perpetual dance.
LoDo (Lower Downtown)
Make your way to the end of the 16th Street Mall to Lower Downtown - LoDo to locals. Check out the towering Union Spire at 14th and Wazee, the charming Pinhorn Statue and Drinking Fountain, designed by Clara Soanson Dieman in 1924 and the whimsical, colorful Petros on the Cherry Creek Path between Larimer and Speer, created by Bill Gian. This itinerary only covers tiny fraction of the public art in Denver.