The idea behind the American Museum of Western Art (AMWA) is to showcase the American West and what made it such an amazing and important part of history. All through art of course.
The museum features The Anschutz Collection, which consists of over 600 paintings, drawings and sculptures spanning the 200 years of Western expansion. Of these works, more than 180 artists are represented, and showcase the American West from the early 19th century up to today.
Before landing permanently in Denver in 1999, the Anschutz Collection used to be broken up and displayed in museums and galleries around the world.
While the art hung in the Navarre Building then, it wasn’t until 2010 when the AMWA was founded specifically to highlight the collection.
Inside the museum there are three floors of intimate rooms to explore. Some feature paintings hung floor-to-ceiling.
Other showcase sculptures, and in some cases the room has been constructed to look like a historical setting, complete with furnishings and art.
While small, the space is packed and guests can expect to enjoy a couple hours perusing the collection.
Visitors should look for 13 groups of art styles, including Expressionism, Art of the New Deal, Golden Age of Illustration and Modernism.
Enjoys illustrious oil paintings of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains, found in the Hudson River School of Art section.
Or, wander the southwest through the creative eye of Georgia O’Keeffe and John Marin in the Cubism and Abstraction display.
Some styles aren’t as well known, for example Taos and Santa Fe Schools, which came about in 1915 in Southwest when the Taos Society of Artists was founded.
This includes artists such as Ernest Blumenschein, Victor Higgins and Walter Ufer, all who garnered inspiration through tribal communities in the Northern Plains and the pueblo cultures of New Mexico.
Add another layer to the trip by visiting the museum’s website for a detailed timeline of the area, its history, and how it pertains to certain art movements, artists and works of art. Overall, expect to learn about people and places, and hear stories about the American West.
Make sure to also take note of the Navarre Building that houses the collection. The historical property was designed by Frank E. Edbrooke in 1880 and originally was a school for girls called The Brinker Collegiate Institute.
Twelve years later another stately property popped up, The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa, right across the street. To note, an underground tunnel was constructed between the two buildings to share coal, and, some say, gentleman callers (now it only houses ghosts and a lot of Denver lore).
After it was a school, the Navarre hosted a dining club, restaurant, and a jazz club before being transformed into a museum in the 1980s.
In 2010, The American Museum of Western Art—The Anschutz Collection was founded as a nonprofit organization and became the permanent home of the Anschutz Collection.
Keep in mind the museum doesn’t admit kids under the age of 8, and those 16 and under must have one adult per four children. The museum also doesn’t allow backpacks or large bags, photography of any sort, and cell phones need to be silenced.
American Museum of Western Art, The Navarre Building at 1727 Tremont Place, Denver, 303-293-2000
How to Save at the American Museum of Western Art
On the first Friday of every month guests can take a FREE self-guided tour of the museum, you just need to reserve a ticket online.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
$5 per person
No children under 8 admitted
All children 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult