Boulder County has many well-known hiking and outdoor activities, as well as great shopping, music and food. But while you are enjoying your visit or spending a weekend out and about, you can have fun while learning something at the same time by checking out the county’s diverse museums.
There are a ton of great museums to visit, covering everything from art to cars to natural history. Below are a few of our favorites.
Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
1750 13th Street, Boulder
Located near the Pearl Street Mall, the Boulder Museum of Modern Art features an avant-garde selection of contemporary art that’s always changing. In the past, the museum has, for example, built a “tree office” in the park across the street. Look at the museum’s website for rotating and temporary exhibits. The gift shop features local art, designer toys, housewares, books, and jewelry, among other items.
Museum of Boulder
2205 Broadway, Boulder
Museum of Boulder offers guests a comprehensive look at Boulder Valley’s history, from the Arapaho people who first inhabited it to the city’s pioneering role in the fields of science and engineering. An ongoing exhibit, the Boulder Experience, details the good, the bad and the ugly sides of the city’s history. The Playzeum and Google Garage offer interactive science and technology activities for kids. Check out the museum’s rotating exhibits, too, which cover a wide range of fascinating subjects. The museum also hosts camps, workshops, classes and tons of adults for visitors of all ages.
Lafayette History Museum
108 East Simpson St. Lafayette
The Lafayette Historical Society has been collecting items related to the history of the community since 1976. Its collection currently contains 2,600 historical artifacts, including documents, tools and other items. The museum has an aerial map that shows the extent of mining tunnels beneath Lafayette, which makes it possible to see if your house is built above one. The parts of the collection that are not on display are available to view upon request for people conducting historical research.
400 Quail Road, Longmont
The museum chronicles the history of Longmont and the surrounding St. Vrain Valley. It boasts a collection of more than 17,000 objects and 10,000 photographs that aim to document the life of the everyday person in the city and the broader area. The museum’s archive, available by appointment, has thousands of photographs, newspaper clippings and other items showing the city’s history from the time it was founded as the Chicago-Colorado Colony. The Longs Peak Room offers a hands-on exhibit and a view of the Rocky Mountains to the west, including the iconic peak from which the room takes its name.
Shelby American Collection
5020 Chaparral Court, Boulder
Even if you don’t consider yourself classic race car aficionado, this museum is still for you. Run by volunteers, the historic collection focuses on cars designed by Carroll Shelby and the Shelby American Team, everything from Shelby’s British AC predecessor and the 289 and 427 race and street Cobras, to the rare Daytona and Willment Coupes, to the revolutionary Ford GT40s, Ford GT and the GT350 Shelby Mustangs. There are usually car guys coming and going, so the parking lot can also be an excellent place to get a feel for car culture.
CU Museum of Natural History
Henderson Building, 15th and Broadway, Boulder
Exhibits at this on-campus museum at the University of Colorado present natural and cultural history from the Centennial State, North America and the rest of the world. The museum offers lectures, workshops and family activities, as well as guided tours. Currently, the museum has more than four million objects categorized into five disciplines: anthropology, botany, entomology, paleontology and zoology. The gift shop also has a variety of books, jewelry, pottery, rugs, toys and other items that make great souvenirs or gifts.
University of Colorado Art Museum
1085 18th St, Boulder
This impressive museum, also located on the CU Boulder campus, has a collection of more than 12,000 objects representing 10,000 years of human creativity, including ancient and classical art, Asian art, art of the Americas, and modern and contemporary art. There’s also a 2,700-print collection by Bud and Barbara Shark, known as the “Sharkive.” Bookmark the museum’s website for current and upcoming exhibitions.
1685 29th St., Boulder
It’s not exactly a museum, but it’s worth visiting all the same. Billing itself as experiential entertainment that is part photography studio and part art exhibit, Wonder Wonder has multiple rooms for people to walk through, take in and photograph. The overarching goal is to create an immersive experience that is engaging and inspiring. Wonder Wonder also has a location in Overland Park, Kansas.
If you have extra time, head down to Denver and swing by:
- Denver Art Museum, denverartmuseum.org
- Denver Museum of Nature and Science, dmns.org
- Clyfford Still Museum, clyffordstillmuseum.org
- Forney Museum of Transportation, forneymuseum.org
- Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, wingsmuseum.org
- History Colorado Center, historycolorado.org/history-colorado-center
- Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, kirklandmuseum.org