Seeing the Museum of Outdoor Arts

The Museum of Outdoor Arts (MOA), which is located in Englewood, Colorado, describes itself as a “museum without walls.” It is thus a collection of sculptures and other art installations placed at different public locations within Englewood and the metropolitan area of Denver. The different sites include city parks, office parks, and public gardens.

The Englewood Civic Center serves as MOA’s headquarters. It also houses many of MOA’s indoor exhibits. The current temporary exhibit, “Natura Obscura,” will run until September 29. Visitors will walk through a “surrealist forest” that combines virtual reality with art in an immersive experience.

The “Cabinet of Curiosities and Impossibilities” is a popular permanent exhibit currently being displayed with the “Natura Obscura” exhibit. Visitors will thus have to buy a ticket for “Natura Obscura” in order to see “Cabinet,” which is also an immersive exhibit. “Cabinet” was inspired by the “curiosity cabinets” of the 16th century that were actually whole rooms containing specimens and objets d’art. They were thus ancestors of museums.

The artist Lonnie Hanzon first developed “Cabinet” in 2010, and he wanted to evoke the wonder and curiosity people viewing the original cabinets experienced. Many different artists contributed to the exhibit, which was renovated last year.

MOA began life in 1981 with just 19 pieces of outdoor art. It now has over 200 pieces spread through Denver, Englewood, and Greenwood Plaza. Several pieces are located at the Englewood Civic Center, and they display a variety of styles. “Greek Temple Dog,” for example, is a replica of statues at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. It harkens back to the ancient tradition of carving animal statues to guard the entrances of temples or cities. The Museum of Arts is right around the corner from City Center Dental Group. (See map below)

Other pieces are reproductions of Renaissance art. For example, “Birth of Venice” by Emilio Martelli is a reproduction of the 15th-century painting by Botticelli.

By contrast, “Windsong III” is a modern example of kinetic sculpture with its brightly-colored, moving parts. It evokes such images as balloons or pinwheels.

As visitors to the “Cabinet of Curiosities and Impossibilities” will note, some of the artists are fans of Lewis Carroll’s works. Harry Marinsky’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” for example is a bronze statue of two characters from the book “Through the Looking Glass.”

The Palazzo Verdi in Denver is home to three of MOA’s massive indoor pieces, all created by artists living in Colorado. Arguably the most impressive is “Chandelier Chardin,” an enormous glass chandelier that stretches 48 feet. “Ascension” is a mural done in different shades of orange that stretches from the floor to the ceiling. The entire floor in the room is a replica of the Chartres Labyrinth.

MOA offers guided and self-guided tours for both indoor and outdoor exhibits. Guided tours last anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes. The groups can’t exceed 15 people, and the tours are first-come, first served.

Visitors who choose to do self-guided tours may download a tour brochure from the museum website. People who can’t visit the museum in person may take a virtual tour. Both features can be accessed through the “Tour” page.

MOA’s indoor gallery is closed on Mondays, and it opens at 10 a.m. on the other days of the week. The outdoor exhibits can be visited from dusk to dawn. Marjorie Park, however, is currently closed for renovation. Another fun location in the area is Pirates Cove, right around the corner.

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