The Valley of the Sun is home to warm sunshine, beautiful landscapes and a vibrant arts and culture scene. After your visit to the Celebration of Fine Art, now Arizona’s longest running art show, fill your itinerary with the best museums the Valley has to offer:
The Musical Instrument Museum, affectionately dubbed “The MIM” by locals, is ranked among the top 20 museums in the U.S. by TripAdvisor. This museum displays more than 6,800 instruments from around the globe, and boasts an event calendar so full of eclectic and worldly exhibitions that you’ll have a tough time not extending your trip to see more. Whether you visit solo or with the whole family, the MIM is sure to inspire your inner musician. They also have a revolving calendar of events, which can be found here.
If you’re looking to discover the history, art and rich culture of the West, this is hands down the museum to visit. The Museum of the West highlights the people, places and events of the American West, which includes 19 states including those bordering Mexico and Canada. If this is an area of which you’re eager to learn, check the schedule. The museum regularly hosts events, gallery tours and educational activities on topics such as Hopi pottery to silver screen cowboys and everything in between. A highly anticipated exhibition on the photographs of Arizona’s Barry Goldwater runs January 6, 2019 – June 23, 2019.
Located in the middle of downtown Scottsdale, make your way to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) to see a carefully curated selection of the world’s most interesting art, architecture and design. Each year the museum features between nine and 12 exhibitions, so no two trips will ever be the same. Collaborations are among the features SMoCA is most known for, including programs and partnerships with the Warhol Foundation, Graham Foundation and Arizona State University, among many others. A listing of current exhibitions can be found here.
The Heard Museum is internationally recognized for its collections, exhibitions and festivals, all celebrating the advancement of American Indian art and its intersection with broader cultural themes. Built in 1929, the museum was one of Phoenix’s first cultural attractions and to this day draws visitors from all over the world with educational programming that showcases both traditional and contemporary works. The Heard’s current jewelry exhibition, Sonwai: The Jewelry of Verma Nequatewa, runs through March 10, 2019. Set aside several hours for a visit, and don’t forget to have lunch at the Heard’s Courtyard Cafe, which includes American Indian and locally sourced fares.
Less than a five-minute drive from the Heard Museum, the Phoenix Art Museum is the largest art museum in the Southwest. Visitors can join tours, attend films and other special events to learn about its nearly 20,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art. For photography buffs, check ahead for a schedule of exhibitions between the museum and the University of Arizona’s distinguished Center for Creative Photography. Fashion design has also enjoyed prominent collections, including its current ultracontemporary exhibition featuring ensembles by Gucci, Comme des Garcons and Iris van Herpen.
Have you visited these museums? Which museums or exhibitions interest you the most?