You can’t come to Denver without going to the Museum of Nature and Science. I’ve written about this place multiple times but after rereading those posts I still feel like I didn’t do this museum justice. Similar to the Botanic Gardens, I feel like there is always something new to learn at this museum. If you have the budget, I would say get a membership to the Botanic Gardens and to this museum and you’re set. Don’t have the funds? Our libraries offer free passes to this museum!
I’m not sure I have a favorite exhibit because how can I choose between Prehistoric Journey and the Wildlife Halls? The Prehistoric Journey exhibit takes you from the beginning of time through today, with, of course, the best part being the dinosaurs. Dinosaur skeletons are everywhere, and, if you get lucky, you can watch actual scientists uncovering real dinosaur fossils in their laboratory, just a glass window separates you. There’s even a wall painted with dinosaur bodies to scale so you can get a better idea as to the utter size of these creatures. Learn not only about the animal life of Earth’s history but also the plant life. Look at drawings and replicas of some weird but cool trees that once existed and learn how the fern we know today came from way back when. It’s all fascinating and the museum staff have done a great job in setting up the space so you wind your through time.
After catching yourself up on Earth’s history, go examine the Wildlife Halls where you can see taxidermy animals from all over the world. While I may not appreciate the fact that many of these animals were purposely killed, I can appreciate being able to look at animals that I will likely never get a chance to see in person. Especially not this close up. It’s a way to travel the world without having to leave my city. And as you stroll through these exhibits, look for tiny painted elves in the backgrounds of some of these displays, because the painter who created the backdrops snuck a few in here and there throughout the entire museum. I find that to be a really fun aspect of my trips there.
Of course, there’s also the Gems and Minerals section that is 100% worth a look. Wanting to treat yourself to some jewelry but not sure what gem you like best? Come check out this exhibit and you’ll leave with lots of ideas. Keep in mind that the gems and minerals here are extraordinary so it might be harder to find quite the same quality at a jeweler’s for a reasonable price, but one can always dream.
Then there’s the Space Odyssey exhibit which is incredible, and I haven’t even been to it since they redid it, so I’m sure it’s even more awesome now. Learn about space travel, see yourself through a UV camera, try to maneuver a space shuttle, and crash a rock into another planet’s surface. I don’t actually know if all of this is still part of the exhibit but I’m confident that whatever is there is going to be great. I look forward to exploring it in the near future. The planetarium is situated within this area and deserves a visit at least once as well. Who doesn’t want to get to explore space and the stars from the comfort of a slightly reclined chair? It might be a little disorienting, but it’s still fun, particularly since it’s hard to see the actual stars from within the city.
The museum doesn’t stop there though. They have temporary exhibits (among a few other permanent exhibits I did not mention) that are interesting and fun. I’ve been to a puzzle exhibit, a Cuba exhibit, and an extreme mammals exhibit. They currently have a Lego exhibit that I sadly will miss due to covid, but I’m sure it’s awesome.
Take your time, spend a few hours there, bring water and snacks, and when you need a break from all the learning, go out on their deck and look out over City Park and into downtown Denver and the Rocky Mountains. This place is a treasure of our city and I am so grateful for its continued existence and for the people who make every visit special.