Denver’s first IMAX theater celebrates 30th anniversary

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This summer marks the 30th anniversary for the Phipps IMAX theater at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

“We opened the theater in 1983, and it was the only IMAX screen in Denver,” said Amanda Bennett, director of marketing at the museum (DMNS).

While there are now hundreds of IMAX screens in the country, she said that what sets Phipps apart is “we really focus and are dedicated to informal science education.”

About 300,000 people visit the theater annually, and Bennett said she thinks the popularity is due to the digital experience and the film topics.

“The content is such that it’s enthralling and keeps you on the edge of your seat, literally at times,” she said.

Toby Winsett, IMAX operations manager, added, “The museum is proud to offer a variety of films in our Phipps IMAX Theater. Larger-than-life experiences to the bottom the of the sea and into outer space add a fun dimension to a museum visit.”

The museum is offering a special on IMAX film prices through Sept. 2. People who buy three film tickets get one free ticket. All they have to do is get a punch card at any admissions desk.

“It’s just a great promotion because it allows you flexibility and provides incentive to see all our films,” Bennett said.

In 2010 the theater was renovated so it could show digital 2D and 3D films. The renovation included a new four-and-a-half-story screen, new seating and flooring. Guests may have noticed that the new seats have cup holders attached to the backs of them, which is odd because the theater does not allow snacks and drinks. However, that will change in August when the theater will start selling concessions.

“We’re going to start limited in scope,” Bennett said. “We will sell popcorn, candy, soft drinks and water.”

Staff had to wait until the space underneath the seats was safeguarded, some of the museum’s collections are housed there, she said.

The museum itself is 112 years old.

“We opened with just a few collections and expanded to what we are today, 1.5 million artifacts,” Bennett said.