Whether it’s the sheen of the snow-covered mountain slope in the background or the lush forest surrounding a two-story, floor-to-ceiling window spread, art is simply more sublime in mountain towns.
Aspen Art Museum
Square Footage: 33,000
Capacity: 250 reception/150 banquet
Art Experience: The rotating exhibitions—from whimsical to classical—in the modern space feature photography, painting, sculpture and more.
Choosing an art-forward event is easily accomplished in Aspen, a mountain town equated with luxury and worldwide recognition. One of the most distinct newer buildings is the Aspen Art Museum, designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Shigeru Ban and opened in 2014. The extremely modern and geometrically-shaped structure is always free and has the only public rooftop view of Aspen Mountain.
“The view is unparalleled, and the bright, airy modern design is unlike anything else in town. The simplicity of the space allows my design team to easily transform it to suit our client’s vision,” explains Jason Burns, owner of Burns & Madsen, an Aspen-based special event and wedding design company. “Incorporating their current exhibits into the overall event design is a fair trade for having the opportunity to be in such a jaw-dropping venue.”
Artisans truly set the stage for a spectacular event by providing inspiration from the onset. “The noncollecting aspect of
the museum makes it an ever-changing destination, and even repeat guests can be wowed by the transformation,” notes Sarah Reynolds Lasser, senior director of business development for Aspen Chamber Resort Association.
Whitney Western Art Museum
Square Footage: 10,000, plus outdoor space
Capacity: 160 seated/300 reception-style
Art Experience: George Catlin, Albert Bierstadt, William R. Leigh, Joseph Henry Sharp, Deborah Butterfield, Fritz Scholder and many more well-known artists.
Whitney Western Art Museum is one of five museums within the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, located in the Bighorn Basin bordered by Yellowstone National Park. Established in 1959, the Whitney is recognized as one of the finest Western art museums in America. Collections include historical and modern representations of Western life, land, people and wildlife through paintings, print and sculpture.
“It’s a world-class facility, and the Smithsonian affiliation and priceless works in the museum are often a welcome surprise to meeting and event planners,” says Claudia Wade, director of Park County Travel Council. “Planners are also appreciative there are numerous event space options including outdoor gardens, classroom-style and banquet rooms, and an auditorium. Plus, the museum also has the ability to provide a high level of catering services.”
The entire Center of the West is available for rent. The lobby is referred to as the “hub” and is used for many events, and individual wings or museums within the center can be utilized as well. Guests can view the backlit art museum while seated at their tables in the hub.
Square Footage: 4,000
Capacity: 75 seated/200 reception-style
Art Experience: Emerging and established Montana artists including Crow Indian
artists Ben Pease, Judd Thompson and Kevin Red Star and photographers Audrey Hall and Chris Boyer.
Stapleton Gallery, located in a retro-chic historic building, was once home to the studios of famous Montana artists such as LeRoy Green and L.A. Huffman. Today’s exhibitions include painting, sculpture, photography, found items, artifacts and folk art that are representative of Northern Plains talent and resources.
“There’s not another space like it,” observes Darla Worden, editor in chief of Mountain Living magazine after a recent event. “Its location in the historic Stapleton Building, adjacent to the Kibler & Kirch studio, gives the gallery such character as a meeting space. It’s perfect for receptions, board meetings and events—even the kitchen was designed with caterers in mind but with historically accurate details. More than just a venue space, the historic building renovation adds ambiance and is an attraction in itself.”
The gallery has comfortably hosted events for a few hundred people spread across the second floor of the building in a variety of rooms and configurations. “We love orchestrating environments that combine art and interior elements in fresh ways,” says gallerist and co-curator Jeremiah Young. “For an event we hosted for the Montana International Film Festival, we created an atmospheric ‘great room’ lounge space that received rave reviews from filmmakers accustomed to events around the world who said they’d never seen anything like it.”
Meow Wolf Santa Fe
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Square Footage: 20,000
Capacity: 600 maximum for exhibit/400 for most concerts and performances, without seating
Art Experience: House of Eternal Return features dozens of rooms, stairways and secret passages combined with interactive components such as light and music.
Santa Fe has the most surreal, extreme, art venue on the list, and four more Meow Wolf experiences are set to open in
Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix and Washington, D.C.
Meow Wolf is challenging to describe or even capture on film; participants truly must experience the weirdness and feeling of crawling through a refrigerator into another room and realm to understand the mission of immersive artistic entertainment. The themes and rooms are so bizarre and perplexing, the experience lasts for days as a world of florescent forests, Victorian rooms in an actual house, a stage with live musicians, and everything in between is all melded into one art explosion.
The exhibition can take hours to explore as no one visit could ever reveal all the intricacies of the installation. Most groups plan at least two hours to explore Meow Wolf.
The attraction’s entire space is available for rent, and also features a children’s learning center, café and bar, and highly-rated music venue.
Whether is it a snazzy reception that ties into an art exhibition or a rooftop sculpture garden overlooking steep slopes, allow the artistic light shine on your next event.
Aspen Art Museum
aspenartmuseum.org | 970.925.8050
Meow Wolf Santa Fe
meowwolf.com | 505.395.6369
stapletongallery.com | 406.384.0996
Whitney Western Art Museum
centerofthewest.org | 307.578.4031