One of the best ways to experience the Grand Canyon area’s rich and diverse culture is to explore its museums. Lucky for visitors, there are many.
Below is a sampling of some of our favorite museums in the Grand Canyon region and in Arizona.
Northern Arizona University Art Museum features Tozan Kiln ceramics to stained and blown glass, paintings, and sculptures from professional artists around the world.
Arizona Historical Society-Pioneer Museum is housed in the former Coconino County Hospital for the Indigent, and is often called the “Poor Farm” by the locals. The three-acre property includes territorial-era buildings and a steam locomotive, exhibits on early medicine, Route 66, logging, Grand Canyon and more.
Museum of Northern Arizona, celebrating its 80th year, has nine exhibit galleries that evoke the spirit of the Colorado Plateau and its diverse Native cultures, tribal lifestyles, natural sciences and ecology.
Lowell Observatory was founded in 1894 by Percival Lowell and is active in research, and provides tours so visitors can enjoy the glimpses through its classic 24-inch refracting telescope that was built in 1896, and explore the Rotunda Museum. This is one of the oldest observatories in the U. S. and is a National Historic Landmark.
The Arboretum at Flagstaff is one of the national’s largest collections of high-country wildflowers at “America’s Mountain Garden.” Situated above 7,000 feet elevation, this is home to a 200-acre botanical garden and nature preserve that affords great views of the San Francisco Peaks.
Sedona Heritage Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features pioneer history, movies made in Sedona, cowboy culture, vintage machinery, orchard industry history, and activities for kids.
The Navajo Museum is located inside the Navajo Nation Visitor Center in Window Rock, AZ, on the Arizona-New Mexico border. Visitors can get a glimpse into the Navajo Indian culture, art and history here. After browsing the museum, head to Navajo Arts & Crafts to see local pottery, jewelry, artwork, blankets and more.
Chiricahua Regional Museum and Research Center is in Willcox, AZ, east of Tucson. Visitors will see artifacts from the Chiricahua Apache Indians, including their great chief, Cochise, and renegade Geronimo.
Central / Southern Arizona
Taliesin West is on, where else, but Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard. Taliesin West was the famous architect’s winter home (in the desert) and school from 1937-1959. This is home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, a school for architects. The structure was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982, as last year, in 2008, the National Park Service submitted Taliesin West (along with nine other Frank Lloyd Wright properties) to a tentative list for World Heritage Status. Taliesin West is open to the public for tours.
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is a wonderful museum that emphasizes contemporary design, art and architecture.
Heard Museum, in downtown Phoenix, is home to 10 exhibition galleries with ongoing changing shows, as well as the Heard Museum and Berlin Gallery of the Heard Museum shops. Collections showcase Native American culture, including an exhibit of a real Navajo Hogan, an Apache lean-to, pottery, art, jewelry, textiles and more. This is an amazing museum that should be included on a Grand Canyon vacation itinerary if at all possible!
Arizona Science Center is for visitors who want to explore science to new levels. The center is home to more than 300 exhibits, all of them interactive and hands on. In addition to the exhibits, there are picnic areas, a lagoon where visitors can canoe or paddleboat on, a swimming pool, nature trail and more.
Arizona Center is a beautiful area complete with fountains, gardens and towering palm trees. More than 50 shops are here to keep visitors occupied while taking in this fantastic area of Phoenix.
Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum sheds light on this state’s important mining heritage. Visitors will enjoy displays of fossils, old mining equipment, minerals and rock. A highlight is a 40-plus-foot-tall Boras head frame and an 1882 baby steam train locomotive.
Heritage Square is home to Phoenix’s original homes, some that were built as early as 1899 and 1901. Include time at the Arizona Doll and Toy Museum, while here.
Phoenix Art Museum has an architecture that is worth the visit. More than 17,000 displays of art are in this amazingly beautiful facility, including Frederic Remington sculptures, and paintings by Thomas Moran and Georgia O’Keeffe.
Museo Chicano showcases the Latino culture and includes displays of art, ancient Mayan artifacts, pop art, and more.
Other worthwhile cultural attractions while in Phoenix include the Wells Fargo History Museum and the Phoenix Museum of History.