It’s important to be cultured; getting some experience with art, history, and even the sciences will remind you of the humanity that’s all around you and what amazing things can be accomplished and preserved if we put our effort into it. So whether you’re exploring the past, the present, or the boundaries of our solar system, here are some must-visit museums in the Valley for you to check out!
1625 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Spanning from the Renaissance to today, the art of the Phoenix Art Museum is varied and engaging. Whether it’s a “swarm of fireflies” that you must get through, a real-life Monet, an exhibition on fast fashion garments of the ’60s, or even the most recent Special Exhibition, Landscapes of Extraction: The Art of Mining in the American West, there is always something new to explore. Given that we’re in the Wild West, it seems fitting that you get a feel for what it means through some historic art — especially if you’re trying to look sophisticated on a first date.
4619 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85034
Between archeological finds and the reconstructions of dwellings, agriculture, irrigation, and more, the discovery of the old Hohokam people’s way of life is a fascinating thing. And thanks to the efforts of the Pueblo Grande Museum (and its adjacent outdoor features), you can explore that at length. Take a mile walk through reconstructed dwellings and actual ruins of a community whose home in Arizona was made long before Phoenix ever existed. If you’re looking to learn a little more about the Valley, this is a stellar place to start!
1300 N College Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281
This rather large museum is yet another way to open your eyes to the past of the Copper State. Hands-on displays and multimedia exhibits showcase various cultural aspects of Arizona’s history, including an upcoming project in oral history about a gone-but-not-forgotten African American neighborhood in South Phoenix, once known as Okemah. Nothing says “you care about your state” more than learning what its people have been through, past and present alike. One featured exhibit you will want to check out is titled Unframed: A Photo Journey Through Navajo and Hopi Nations, 1977–1978. This photo expedition across Northern Arizona showcases a contemporary artist’s experiences after traveling between 24 trading posts in the Native American Nations in that region — giving us all a closer look at the lives of the Peoples there.
781 E Terrace Rd, Tempe, AZ 85281
It’s not just one museum experience. The School of Earth and Space Exploration has various experiences, some guided and some free, that can bring a sense of wonder to adults and children alike. The gallery exhibits on the first two floors of Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV house videos from earth-observing satellites, while the Mars Flight and LROC facilities feature some of the more explorative exhibits for people who want to learn more about spaceflight. The Ronald Greeley Center for Planetary Studies is yet another ASU building that houses maps, archived planetary images, scientific journals, and more that pertain to the existing completed missions into space. If you’re curious about the universe, this is one of the best places in Arizona to explore.