The Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which combines a museum with an IMAX theater and a Planetarium, offers an interesting day out in the Denver area which will intrigue anyone who has ever wondered about how the world works. You can learn about the stars, about the diverse species of animals that share the planet with us, or discover more about your own body.
The museum was founded in 1900. One of the founders was a naturalist called Edwin Carter, who had come to the area in order to explore the Rocky Mountains and discover more about its birds and mammals. Carter's collection of local species formed the original content of the museum, although it was soon joined by the collections of some other local scientists, the gold specimens of John Campion and the moths and butterflies of John Mason. The museum has continued to expand since this time, with new buildings and collections being added in order to fulfill Carter's dream that the museum would become one of America's great educational institutions.
Currently, the museum is undergoing a new, ten year long phase of development under the plan known as Museum 20/20. This has already led to the establishment of the permanent Expedition Health exhibition, which provides visitors with a personalized insight into how their own bodies work, and will soon lead to further new exhibits, including the Rocky Mountain Science Collections Center. This center will gather all of the museum's Rocky Mountain treasures into one place, where they will be available for both visitors and scientists who want to learn more about the local Denver area.
In addition to the exhibits in the museum itself, visitors can watch films in the IMAX theater or attend a show in the Planetarium. The films and shows change regularly, so it is a good idea to check what is on and when before you plan your visit.
Special events and activities regularly take place in the museum, many of which are geared towards families and children. These activities are most popular with Denver residents and schools, although visitors to the area are welcome too. Children can learn more about nature and science through workshops, sleep in the museum during one of the camp-ins, or join a summer camp to spend a week exploring science with the museum. Workshops are also available which are designed for parents and children to attend together. Joining in one of the organized events at the museum is the perfect way to learn more about the exhibits, and they often allow participants to see the museum in a very different way. Sitting under the night sky in the Planetarium feels very different when you know it is actually dark outside.
There are also plenty of opportunities for adult visitors in the museum to learn more about science and nature. It is possible to take a class at the museum, to attend lectures or to attend the monthly Science Lounge, where you can enjoy a combination of cocktails and science.
The museum is open every day of the year between 9 am and 5 pm, except Christmas Day. Ticket prices vary, depending on whether you want to visit the museum, the IMAX, the Planetarium or some combination of the three. It is cheaper to buy a combined ticket for two or three of these attractions rather than to pay separately, so try to decide which parts you want to visit before you get your tickets.
The Denver museum hosts many different exhibitions throughout the year, so there is often something new to see. Many locals who are regular visitors like to become members of the museum in order to benefit from free entry and discounted tickets for the IMAX and Planetarium.