Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix Art Museum
1625 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona 85004

The first thing you notice while walking to the entrance of the Phoenix Art Museum is a caged dinosaur...of the bright red variety...In fact, something most Phoenicians don't realize is how big this Phoenix attraction is - it's the largest museum for visual art in the Southwest United States. The Art Museum opened it's doors in 1959, and displays over 18,000 works from all over the globe. Don't let this scare you though, if you don't have to stare at every painting and walk through to pause at the pieces that catch you, you can see the entire museum in under 1 1/2 hours (and if you go on Wednesday between 3-8 you can see it for free!).

The Phoenix Art Museum is divided into several different exhibits and galleries. On the Main Level is the Philip Curtis exhibit (Pictured Left) which has a fun, whimsical, and surreal feel. Curtis was the founding director of the Phoenix Art Museum, and the collection on exhibit covers about 50 years of his work as an artist.

Also housed nearby is the Asia exhibit full of beautiful pottery, sculpted jade, and round bellied Buddhas and the museum cafe.

Also near the main entrance is the Steele Gallery, which features various collections like "The West Select, A New Western Classic" with pictures/paintings/sculptures depicting the wild west here in Arizona (see right), "Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century," "Modern Mexican Painting from the Andres Blasten Collection," "The Long 19th Century, 1789-1914," and "Fashion Independent."

From here we head into the south Katz Wing for Modern and Contemporary Art and the Ellman Fashion Gallery. The Fashion Gallery features exhibits such as "Giorgio di Sant' Angelo", "Theatre de la Mode", "Extending the Runway", and "In The Mood." For a current view of museum exhibits, view our Phoenix Event Calendar. The Contemporary Art area was my favorite, but I have a 50lb stone hand on my living room floor and pure white lacker moose head on office wall, so take that for what you will! Probably my favorite thing of the Phoenix Art Museum came from the Contemporary Art area where they had a sculpture by Cornelia Parker, 1997, entitled "Mass

(Colder Darker Mattter)." The sculpture looks like it was frozen in the middle of an explosion, and is made from charcoal retrieved from the Babptist Church of Lytle, Texas when it was struck by lightning.

This area of the Phoenix Art Museum also houses the Norton Gallery of Photography. The exiting exhibit is "Bare Witness: Photographs by Gordon Parks," which captures some stunning moments during the time of Malcom X and Muhammad Ali. From November 12, 2011 - March 4, 2012, this area will be featuring "Iconic Arizona: Celebrating the Arizona Centennial."

The second level North Wing takes us through the traditional feeling Art Museum featuring 17th and 18th Century European Art and items from the Renaissance/Baroque period. This is where you'll find Monet and several of the other well known artists. As I walked through this area, I wished for the audio headphones that they have at the MIM, because there is so much history that would be interesting to hear as I looked at the paintings, and I'd probably stop at more of them for longer if I was listening to a story about the work. As it was, I probably didn't stop and read as much as I should have to appreciate the age and history behind all the pieces, I guess that's what the guided tours are for!

For your kids, they can get some air in the sculpture garden (pictured right), and the museum has kidpacks for ages 6-10 (available in the lobby) with activity cards, puzzles, and creative activities they can complete as they go through the museum. The Phoenix Art Museum has special PhxArtKids Days for ages 5-12 that allow hands on activities and - bonus! - at the Arcadia Farms Cafe kids meals are free with the purchase of an adult entree on these days. There is also a special PhxArtKids Gallery upstairs in the North Wing where your kids can trace designs or combine patterns to create their own works of art!

Want to check out other museums besides the Phoenix Art Museum? Click here for a list of all Phoenix Museums!