Denver Public Art Free Artwork Around City

big-blue-bear-denver-sculptureThe City of Denver has an ambitious public art program. Initiated more than a decade ago, the City and County of Denver public arts program requires that all construction and infrastructure projects over a certain dollar amount set aside one percent of the overall budget in order to purchase and erect public art around the city. An unforeseen consequence of the 1% to public art rule has been the creation of some enormous public works of art as developers sought to fulfill the city mandate with a single piece of sculpture or other outdoor art. The result is a city full of large public sculptures that may be viewed for free around the city.

Free Art for Families, Visitors, and Tourists

The City of Denver offers a Guide to Public Art to help families find and see free artworks to help inspire children and adults alike while also providing fun free stuff to do in Denver. Visitors and tourists will be equally impressed by the wide variety of free sites to see in Denver. Seeing all of the public works of art in Denver could be a whole day itinerary for travelers to Denver looking for some fun, free, sightseeing in the city.

Free Sites To See In Denver – Art

The best known public art sculpture in Denver has become the city’s unofficial mascot. The giant blue bear looking through the windows into the Denver Convention Center appears to be leaning on the glass wall of windows trying to get a peak inside at the events happening in the Convention Center.

The official name of the big blue bear at the Convention Center sculpture is I See What You Mean, a title just as playful as the enormous bear sculpture.  The street the blue bear sculpture is on is 14th Street outside of the main entrance of the Denver Convention Center. Of course, the bear can be viewed from the outside of the Convention Center by passers by walking down 14th St. or even by those in cars driving by. (Open your sunroof or moon roof for an even better view as you drive by. Just pay attention to the road and don’t get into any accidents.)

Other well known public sculptures in Downtown Denver are the giant dancers outside of the Denver Performing Arts Complex along Speer Boulevard, and the horse on the giant red chair outside of the Denver Public Library downtown branch and easily seen from the north entrance of the Denver Art Museum. These Denver landmarks are titled Dancers, and The Yearling, respectively.

For more information on Denver’s public art get a copy of the Downtown Guide to Denver Artwork.

New Denver Public Library Location Selected

Although it will be a couple of years before Denver area residents and visitors can enjoy the newest edition to the Denver Public Library system, the new library location has been selected. The Denver Library Commission voted unanimously to build the new library on West Colfax Avenue at Irving Street. The new library should be a welcome addition to the list of fun places for kids in Denver.

(For those of you non-Denverites familiar with Colfax Avenue’s seedy reputation, keep in mind that, that is in reference to a very specific (and short) stretch of East Colfax Avenue, and that reputation is significantly overblown. This location is west of downtown Denver. )

new-denver-library The new library location was selected to help fill in the sizable gap between the Woodbury Library and Barnum Library branches on the western side of Denver. The library’s funding comes from the 2007 Better Denver Bond Program which Denver voters approved to help fund a whole slew of capital construction projects. The bonds were designated both for the construction of new libraries and the remodeling and retrofitting of existing libraries, some of which where aging dangerously past current building safety and code standards.

Although Denver Library hours have been cut drastically due to budget cuts, the commission felt that the service need for the new facility outweighed the drag of additional costs.

Free Events For Kids Denver Area

The Denver Library system doesn’t have as many free activities for kids as it used to, but still offers plenty of fun summer programs for children in Denver. The Summer of Reading Program is underway, which is a great incentive to get kids to read over the summer vacation holiday.

In addition, story time and story hour is still on at most library branches. Story time at the downtown library comes in multiple flavors that are age-based story readings for kids at the library. There is Book Babies for infants, Tales for Twos for that in between age, and Tot Tales for older children.

There are also fun upcoming events for adults in Denver as well, including a Bike Mechanic course seminar held at the Central Library branch downtown. Sundays, June 27 and July 25, 1-3 p.m.

See the Denver Library website for more details.

Downtown Denver Public Library

Denver-public-library-books-graphic The Denver Public Library Downtown Branch is located on the Southeast edge of the main downtown Denver area next to the Denver Art Museum and Civic Center Park with both the Colorado State Capitol Building, and the Denver City and County Buildings near by. Branch libraries are located through out the city.

The library building itself is something of an interesting architectural piece. On one hand, the building is composed of perfectly normal building shapes and colors, just like you would draw in a picture, and that is its genius. Of course, real buildings typically don’t look like the ones drawn on paper, but this one does. It is pastel colored with each segment of the building forming a perfectly drawn shape, cylinders, rectangles, and squares.

Inside, the Denver Public Library book collection sprawls across four floors. The library Children’s section is on the first floor, as is the Reference Section, and the popular fiction and multimedia section. The top three floors contain the bulk of the library’s books and are categories in the traditional Dewey Decimal System manner.

The library has numerous computer workstations with public Internet access. This can make finding a free one can be difficult despite time limits placed on consecutive usage, as many people camp out for as long as they are allowed online. For that reason, it is advisable to search the library’s card catalog online prior to visiting if you are looking for something specific. Otherwise, a handful of computers scattered throughout the library are marked as being either Card Catalog Only, or No Internet Access. These stations are generally not occupied.

Residents of Denver can use the online catalog to not only search for materials, but also to place books, DVDs, and CDs on hold. The great thing about the system is that in addition to reserving the materials, the user may also choose where to pick up the materials, meaning that there is no need to drive all over town to a specific library to get the book you want. Simply place a hold on the book and select your nearest Denver Library Branch to pick it up.

Denver Public Library Hours

The main downtown branch of the library is open every day, although only for a half a day on Sundays.

However, all local branch library locations are closed on Sunday. Additionally, falling tax revenues have caused Denver and the library system to endure major budget cuts. Unfortunately one money saving method being used is closing branches for additional days. The 2010 Library Schedule of hours has most branches closed on Sundays and two other days each week, so check the Denver Library Hours prior to venturing out.

Denver City Layout

Which Way Is North?

Getting your bearings in most cities can be a challenge. In Denver, and anywhere along the Front Range for that matter, finding North, South, East, and West is as easy as finding the mountains. The Rocky Mountains are to the West.

If you are ever lost or confused, just take a minute to look around. Find the mountains; that is west. You can take it from there.

(For the super directionally challenged, if you are looking West, North is to the right, and South is to the left. East is behind you.)

Denver City Streets

Like most cities, Denver has a network of streets crisscrossing its downtown area. Unlike, most cities, those streets are not always laid out on a North-South and East-West axis.

denver-street-layout-graphicMany of Denver’s downtown streets are laid out diagonally, more on a Northeast to Southwest and Northwest to Southeast type grid. The reason for this unusual layout?

Early on in Denver’s history, the streets were actually laid out so that if you looked down the street (to the Southwest) you would see Pikes Peak. The name streets are laid out in this direction. They are crossed at the standard 90 degrees by the numbered streets. This arrangement was abandoned later, but not before Denver ended up with a “weird” layout for almost all of its downtown streets. It also makes for some interesting intersection where the “normal” North-South/East-West streets meet their diagonal counterparts.

Numbered Streets

The numbered streets in Downtown Denver run from lower numbers to the south toward higher numbers to the north.  Thus, 14th Street is south of 15th Street.

The crossing streets are named streets. These streets do not progress according to any external order. (They are not alphabetical, for example).

Denver Landmark Locations

A handful of Denver Landmarks and Attractions make for useful directional landmarks.

The Pepsi Center, home of the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets, is in the Southwest corner of downtown, while Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, occupies the Northwest corner.

The Denver City and County Building and the Colorado State Capitol building flank Civic Center Park on the eastern edge of downtown.