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I am a Denver-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Experiencing Denver Arts Week

Denver Arts Week is in full gear, and if you haven’t climbed on the wagon you’re missing out. I experienced one of the best parts of the week – the free museum night – this past weekend with a friend. After discussing all of the great options – the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Botanic Gardens, and many more – we each picked a spot we hadn’t seen before.

My friend wanted to tour the Molly Brown House, because she has a love for old, historic houses. I had seen it years ago, but was excited at the opportunity to return. My previous tour guide was appropriately in period dress, but this time Molly Brown “herself” was present – several times over, actually. Different re-enactors greeted us throughout the house, many dressed and acting as Molly herself, beginning with the front porch.

It was a fun way to kick off the night, but without a true guided tour – like I experienced before – it took us no more than 20 minutes to walk through the house and admire the furnishings, only a few of which were actually Molly’s. From there, our excitement for the night in overdrive, we decided to walk around the corner to the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Arts. I don’t recall being overly impressed by my previous visit, but felt compelled to return since it was convenient.

We didn’t spend a lot of time in the Kirkland. Glancing at pieces here and there, we quickly moved through the various rooms. Many of the pieces hanging on the walls – paintings which I actually identify as art – were interesting and well done, but others seemed to be no more than what they are – furnishings and dishes. Chairs, serving platters, tables and the like are just that to me, furniture and cutlery. I appreciate the thought and care in their design, but have a difficult time identifying them as art. But that’s what the Kirkland is all about.

Despite not being impressed by such art, I did enjoy seeing several different paintings at the Kirkland. So I left happy and excited for our next stop on the night – my selection for the evening. For years I had wanted to see the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center, but had always been otherwise occupied and distracted not to make the trip. Saturday night, though, I finally made it.

The museum is located in the long-time house of Dr. Justina Ford, a woman who was discriminated against for years because of her color and not actually acknowledged as a doctor. Over her 50-year career she delivered more than 7,000 babies, and not a single one in a hospital since she wasn’t considered a doctor. It wasn’t until she died that she was recognized for her knowledge and achievements. Part of the museum is now dedicated to her with more on other interesting and influential residents of Denver and the West in other rooms.

I had heard the Black American West Museum was, in a manner of speaking, a clichés; it’s a hidden gem, a must-see, and all kinds of other things. I scoffed over it, which is why I suppose I never made it a priority to stop in for a visit. But by the time I walked out – hearing the stories of Dr. Ford, Miss Clara Brown, the pioneers, cowboys, Buffalo Soldiers, and more through historians and re-enactors – I was kicking myself for not having stopped in earlier. After all, while those descriptions certainly are cliché, they’re also quite accurate – the museum is a hidden gem that is a must-see for any visitor or resident of Denver. And I’m glad I finally took the time to stop in and experience it.

We wrapped up our night, excited and impressed by what we saw and learned. Denver is home to a lot of fascinating history, as deep and various as each person who has lived here, and includes more eclectic and interesting museums – other than the ones everyone comes to see – which can also be worth your time depending on your tastes. And with Denver Arts Week cruising right along, there’s no better time to get out and experience some of the culture that makes the area special.

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2 Comments on “Experiencing Denver Arts Week”

  1. Carol Dunnigan November 5, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    I think I saw that lady in the top pic on the news around Halloween 🙂

    • Jason's Travels November 5, 2012 at 9:45 am #

      She was pretty funny to listen to while waiting to go inside the house, especially since it was chilly outside Saturday night.

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