Color Your World in Phoenix


By Amy Young

Museums are a glorious way to beat the Arizona heat. Fun, educational and air-conditioned, the metro Phoenix area includes multiple museum choices in which to see historic, contemporary and regional artwork. From the suburbs to the heart of the city, here are three to help you plan.


Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum at sunset

Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum at sunset
Photo courtesy of Mesa Arts Center

This destination is in the heart of Mesa’s downtown area, a busy stretch that includes a variety of shops and restaurants. This colorful museum is part of the Mesa Arts Center, which also includes live theater venues showcasing local and touring acts, as well as classroom areas for a diverse roster of arts-oriented learning opportunities.  Dedicated to showcasing a range of contemporary artwork from local to international, the museum’s summer exhibitions include “Aerosol Exalted,” paintings and mural work by Los Angeles-based artist El Mac, and Kristin Beeler’s “Archive of Rag and Bone,” with portraits and related objects. Both exhibitions run through August 7.


The Phoenix Art Museum’s Katz wing boasts an intriguing staircase

The Phoenix Art Museum’s Katz wing boasts an intriguing staircase
Photo courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum

For over 50 years, the Phoenix Art Museum has hosted more than 400 exhibitions, and now features a collection of 18,000 works of art offering a varied look at artistic styles from different periods in time. Located in central Phoenix, the museum is also in close proximity to other artsy destinations, including the Heard Museum, and several art galleries. This summer, the rotating exhibitions include “David Taylor: Photographs,” which features monuments delineating the border between Mexico and the United States, as well as “Water”, Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky’s examination of humanity’s relationship with our most vital resource. Round out the day with a stroll through the lush Sculpture Garden, a delightful meal at Palette and a visit to the museum store.


James Turrell’s, Knight Rise, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

James Turrell’s, Knight Rise, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Photo by Sean Deckert

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is one of Old Town Scottsdale’s treasures. Located next to Civic Space Park, the compound also houses the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, which hosts world-class entertainers throughout the year. The museum’s rotating exhibitions feature artists from around the world, paying attention to innovative styles and processes. During your visit, be sure to stop by the Nancy and Art Schwalm Sculpture Courtyard to see the James Turrell Skyspace artwork, Knight Rise, which offers an intriguing look at the sky.


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