The other day, we bought a new second-home in LoDo. Though we only live 30 blocks or so from downtown, our neighborhood feels very small-town, so we figured we could use an infusion of urban style in our lives. Do you like it? It only costs $45 a year. OK, not really. Actually, we just bought ourselves a membership to the new modern art museum, MCA Denver. We used to frequent the old one, on Sakura Square. And in fact, an independent film that my husband worked on won an award at a film fest there a few years back. We missed it when it closed...but life intervened, and while we were eagerly waiting for the construction of the new location to be completed, we sort of forgot all about it. We did take note when it opened, but time flew by in a whirl of new-parenthood, work and school, and we just kind of forgot to go check it out. On a recent day off, out of ideas and having too recently visited the zoo and the nature and science museum, a little lightbulb went off in my head. And man oh man, was it worth the wait! The most disconcerting part is the parking - there appears to be no dedicated lot, so you have to find street parking in the local urban loft neighborhood (occupying what used to be Denver's train yards). There are plenty of spaces to be had within a block or two if you know where to turn, but if you aren't a native, you might be put off by the lack of obvious options. This may be part of the reason for our feeling that we had the place to ourselves. Sure, we have our "weekends" in the middle of the week, thanks to my husband's odd work schedule - so granted, most museums are less crowded when we visit. But on this particular grey Thursday in mid-March, we practically had the place to ourselves once we'd purchased our (very affordable) family membership. Hence the feeling of having a very chic second home in the heart of trendy LoDo. This, by the way, is the Open Shelf Library (TM) which is a very cool space. You can sit at a computer and peruse the online archives, hunt through the bookshelves for rare art books... ...and peruse an eclectic selection of vintage toys, memorabilia and odd little sculptures displays. Once free inside this amazing space, we took full advantage, ran up and down the high-ceilinged halls and explored rooms full of textural installations. We'd already had a rather thorough introduction to the museum and its collections thanks to NPR, so the laminated cards of museum guides were not so necessary for us. We kicked up our heels and played at will. QQ was suprisingly attuned to the work, and seemed to have a blast. We were particularly drawn to these old-school tattoo-like prints, as we are a tattood family (my husband and I have four between us, and Q has been sporting a temporary version from the main art museum for a week now on the back of her hand). These also, particularly compelling. The space is nothing short of amazing, stark and modern, with unexpected skylights and occasional floor-to-ceiling windows that offer what feels like a vertiginous view onto the city below. QQ parcilurly enjoyed the corner-slung mirrors, adding to the vertigo. I loved this gratuitous wall paper pattern. Wouldn't this be great in a nursery? We'd duplicate it in Q's room...but why bother, since we have this for our "second home"? (Please, no one bother coming here...very boring. Don't bother. Really, it isn't worth the trip.) Stairs to the rooftop, which is, if anything, equally as compelling as the collections themselves. Straight out of a particularly good issue of Dwell magazine. Xeriscaped rooftop gardens. See what I mean? Oh, if only I had thought of this. Or...wait, if only someone had sponsored me, I might have conceived and executed a xeriscaped rooftop garden like this. Yes, I'm sure I would have. Little alcoves for sitting and enjoying the weather and spectacular views over downtown Denver. Great spaces... ...and great panoramas everywhere you look. QQ waiting for Daddy to serve her at the outdoor bar. With views over Mommy's favorite warehouse district, with its wonderful painted walls. This particular warehouse wall, with its quaint but oversized wallpaper pattern has been one of my favorites for quite some time. But I could really have not scripted this any better - the angle, the view from above, the single red car amid all that grayscale. Q's favorite game recently, "I'm gonna getcha!" In this picture, it looks like she actually knows how to run. She is still working on it, actually. Another high perspective. Q inspecting the xeriscaping. The children's creative play area and lounge on the topmost level is quite possibly the most genius part of the entire structure. A hall full of beanbag chairs is topped by magazine racks full of the most recent issues of various trendy modern art publications. Parents can lounge and read up on the latest in the art world while children roll and play among the beanbags.
The creative area is expansive and full of safe materials and visually instructional manuals, allowing kids of all ages to experiment safely in a lovely environment. I adore these chairs, and here they come in two sizes - toddler-appropriate and adult-appropriate. I'll finish with the theater, since I seem to have a new obsession with photographing stills of moving pictures. We came in on the middle of this fine example of Chinese minimalist video art. Q loved the dancing part, and we loved the whole package. It speaks for itself. When we got home, Q was feeling particularly urban and chic, as you can see. As for me, membership clutched in my hot little hand, I am already picturing languid summer afternoons in our new home, staging photo shoots with Q in the roof gardens when the light is good, exploring the latest exhibits at our leisure, running up and down the stark corridors, and watching the Q come up with new and revolutionary things to do with yarn in the "idea box". Ah, luxury.
For the record, I was actually hesitant to write this post, lest I expose this incredible space to the interested public, and ruin our private "second home" feeling. But, on balance...I have to share. This place is amazing, and I'm proud of our city for fostering such a brilliant venue.