Create your own unique summer camp experience at the Denver Art Museum
Winter has come and gone, spring has sprung and now it’s time for some summer fun. Yet for many parents, the seasonal shift is accompanied by scheduling headaches and a scramble to sign up for packed classes. Look no further than downtown Denver for educational ideas for entertainment. Whether you’ve missed the submission deadlines for camps or want to handcraft an itinerary to please all your kids this summer, the Denver Art Museum (DAM) has a variety of family-friendly activities that are both entertaining and educational, and perfect for the family on the go.
The following suggested activities, events and programs can be explored as a whole family or independently by older kids and teenagers. These suggestions can be mixed and matched, stacked into one week or explored at your family’s leisure. And a friendly reminder: Youth 18 and under enjoy free general admission at the DAM – all day, every day thanks to the Free for Kids program.
1) Ongoing activities at the DAM
All year long, the DAM hosts a number of ongoing activities for children. Roam the museum equipped with a Family Backpack, available Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each backpack holds its own adventure packed with art supplies, games and puzzles to help guide families through the museum and encourage children to engage with the art. Make a stop at any of the Creative Corners located in the North and Hamilton Buildings to create unique crafts. North Building activities include a Southwest Saints Creative Corner on level 4 and the Bosch Puppet Theatre on level 6. In the Hamilton Building, guests can create their own Tapa Square out of mulberry fiber and Samoan upeti pattern boards. The Kids Corner, located on level 1 of the North Building, lets kids make a mask, try on the costumes of India and play with a miniature museum dollhouse.
Looking for an open space for your kids to release some energy? Visit the Just for Fun Center—Japan located in Duncan Pavilion. Take a seat and let the kids discover the images hidden in the colorful mural, enjoy the aesthetics of Japanese gardens and learn how to dress like a samurai. The Just for Fun Center is between the North and Hamilton Buildings and is an ideal transition before diving back into the exhibitions.
2) Search and Seek: Gallery Games and Suggested Scavenger Hunts
Younger and older children can enjoy the Gallery Games throughout the museum. Play Western Bingo on level 2 of the Hamilton Building, take note of the textures of the Northwest Coast on level 2 of the North Building or delight in the details of Asian art and feel the unique textures of samurai armor on level 5 of the North Building.
If the Gallery Games seem a bit elementary to older kids, create your own list of artworks, details or items to find throughout the museum. Suggested items include:
- Find one painting from each century since 1500.
- Pick a painting, like The Road to Santa Fe on level 2 of the Hamilton Building, and see how many different animals, people, plants or colors can be found.
- Find at least five works by female artists.
- Stop by The Shops at the DAM and pick out a couple of postcards. Then ask children to find the artwork in the museum’s collection. (Tip: Looking online beforehand can help parents choose works that are currently on view.)
- Create a simple list of animals, people and objects to find, including:
- A bird
- A baby
- A child
- A dog
- A mythical creature
- A bowl of fruit
- If your family is well-versed in the art world, try to identify paintings or works by their movement or style.
Visit the Denver Art Museum’s free Creativity Resource page for more educational activity suggestions.
3) Express yourself at the Costume Studio
Located on level 1 of the Hamilton Building, the Costume Studio offers hands-on activities and artist demonstration. Kids can craft a visual narrative from script to sketch and create their own characters inspired by historic Western figures like those in The Western: An Epic in Art and Film. They can assemble a costume on the mannequins, with or without the help of mom and dad, to represent a unique character or world. During the weekend, local artists and creatives stop by the studio to demonstrate their skills. Demonstrations include a monster mask-making session with Daniel Crosier and an exploration of Mexican heritage through dance with Sandra Garcia. For more details about this summer’s artist lineup, visit the Costume Studio webpage.
4) Special Programs: Performances and Access Programs
During Free First Saturday each month, families can listen to cuentistas tell the tales of artwork during Cuentos del Arte. Meet at the Family Activity Cart on level 1 of the Hamilton Building to find your cuentista.
Individuals and families who prefer less sensory-stimulating environments can visit the DAM on select Saturday mornings before public hours for the Low Sensory Morning program. Families can enjoy the museum’s collections and exhibitions with quieter gallery sounds, fewer participants and hands-on tours during the next Low Sensory Morning on August 19. Low Sensory Mornings are included in general admission but reservations are required.
Teens and families looking to explore the DAM at night can participate in Untitled Final Fridays, the museum’s late-night creative programming on the Final Friday of each month. Programs slated for the summer include Action!, Summer Camp and Truth or Dare.
5) Enjoy ongoing exhibitions and installations
View exemplary exhibitions and installations at the Denver Art Museum before they close this summer and fall. Note the works of some of the art world’s outspoken creatives in Audacious: Contemporary Artists Speak Out on level 3 of the Hamilton Building through August 6. Go to the moon and back in Tableau, an interactive, dream-like space tucked in level 2 of the Hamilton Building through August 20. The Western: An Epic in Art and Film, on view through September 10, examines the origin and the evolution of the Western genre through fine art, film and popular culture. Spark a conversation about identity, place and boundaries in the conversation lounge of Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place, on view through October 22.
**Audacious, Tableau and Mi Tierra are included in the price of general admission. The Western requires the purchase of an additional ticket; the Free for Kids programs caps special exhibition tickets at $5 for youth 18 and under.