I’m not really an art museum person, but I do like free stuff, and the Denver Art Museum is free on first Saturdays for Colorado residents. So I went. Plus I got to say things like “DAM! That’s where I’m going today!” It’s much cooler to verbalize the above sentence then to write it out because when spoken nobody can tell I’m omitting the “N.” You can also become a “DAM Good Friend” of the museum. Hehe.

Based on my extremely limited knowledge and experience with art museums, the Denver Art Museum is better than the Seattle Art Museum, but I prefer New York’s Met to the Denver Art Museum. This may be because I went to the Met with two other anti-art people and we spent our time making fun of modern art. Plus the Met is always free.

I liked the Denver Art Museum because it was not too big, exhibits are easy to walk through without getting lost, there were interactive exhibits on every floor (make your own postcard! Design patterns with beads! Dress up like you belong in a Clint Eastwood movie!), and there were lots of loud people there. (Probably because it was a free day, but still) I don’t like being quiet in museums. Also, some exhibits (like the creepy red dining scene with all the wolves) are enhanced by the wearing of 3D glasses. I like gimmicks with my art. Anything to keep me entertained.

The layout of the museum is far superior to the two other art museums I’ve been to recently. The Seattle Art Museum and the Met were all about having lots of small rooms with paintings hung up on the four walls of the rooms. The Denver Art Museum has huge rooms, and with displays are placed all throughout the space, not just on permanent walls. The lack of tons of tiny rooms is what aids in the not-getting-lost-department.

My favorite exhibits to not get lost in where the “Western America” and the “Western American Photography” exhibits on the 2nd floor of the Hamilton Building and the 7th floor of the North Building, respectively. This was probably because I recognized many of the scenes and landscapes due to my frequent car trips between Las Vegas, Seattle, and Denver. Art, like everything in life, is more enjoyable if you have some prior knowledge you can call on. For the same reason, the American Indian exhibits on the 2nd and 3rd floors were cool too. I liked that I recognized the Acoma pottery and Navajo rugs due to my last trip through Northern New Mexico.

This “prior knowledge” theory went out the window as I raced through the Asian and European exhibits though. I’ve already seen an insufferable amount of Asian art in China because whenever it was raining in Shanghai, I’d duck into a museum. I was in China during monsoon season. There is only so much blue and white lacquered pottery that you can appreciate. I’ve likewise seen my fair share of European art because whenever my toes started freezing in Germany and Scandinavia I’d seek warmth in the confines of a museum. I was in Europe during January. I’d had my fill of Madonna’s holding fat babies wearing halos as headgear.

My least favorite exhibit was the only one I was specifically looking forward to. Of course. Artist Ed Ruscha has a special temporary exhibit at DAM that was inspired by Jack Kerouac’s Great American Novel. I’d been eager to check it out because I’d just finished reading “On The Road.” The exhibit was beyond disappointing. Ed created his “art” by putting Kerouac quotes on a canvas and adding a really ugly looking mountain underneath the quote. I wish I could put a picture of these monstrosities below this paragraph, but I was not allowed to photograph the “artwork.” This exhibit will be up until April 22nd should you care to check it out for yourself.

The Denver Art Museum is located at 13th and Broadway in downtown Denver. It is open Tuesdays – Sundays from 10am – 5pm. On Fridays the museum stays open until 8pm. The museum is closed on Mondays. Museum admission starts at $10 for adult Colorado residents ($13 for non-residents) with discounts for seniors, students, and children.