We know and love Phoenix, home to Optima Biltmore Towers, as an urban oasis and cultural hub, where the arts are everywhere you look. At the center of Phoenix’s ever-evolving and expanding arts scene is the Phoenix Art Museum, an institution that’s been around for sixty years. 

History of the Museum

Although the museum has been around for 60 years, its community ties go even deeper. In 1915, just three years after Arizona achieved statehood, the Phoenix Women’s Club was formed. The club used their platform to establish an art exhibition committee, whose goal was to improve the quality of art offerings at the Arizona State Fair and to purchase one piece of art each year. Their vision, and collection, became the foundational basis for the museum’s collection today, now consisting of more than 20,000 art objects.

Sculptural exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum
Credit: Tomwsulcer on Wikimedia Commons, made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

The Museum Today

Today, the Phoenix Art Museum is considered the largest art museum in the southwestern United States, engaging 300,000 local and visiting art lovers alike each year. Their mission? “To ignite imaginations, create connections, and serve as a vibrant destination, a brave space, for all people who wish to experience the transformative power of art.” They don’t just operate as a museum to achieve this — they’re a vibrant community center and host to festivals, live performances, independent art films and educational programs, both inside and outside the museum walls.

For those planning their visit, expect to enjoy American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art and fashion design, as well as an interactive children’s space, photography exhibitions (held in partnership with the Center for Creative Photography) and a landscaped sculpture garden. 

There’s no shortage of things to discover, whether you’re a first-time or regular visitor. While the museum is temporarily closed due to COVID-19, you can explore their full list of collection onlines here. And when their doors do open once more, you can learn more about planning your visit here, or view a calendar of upcoming events here.