As they enter the massive brick building, visitors pass the Watercarrier, a curved bronze statue that lends a first glimpse at a staggering collection of ancient and modern Native American works. Established in 1893, the Arizona State Museum celebrates and records Southwest Indian cultural history with more than 3 million objects, including a collection electrified with more than 25,000 pieces of woven basketry, more than 300,000 catalogued archaeological artifacts, 500,000 photographic negatives and original prints, 90,000 volumes of rare titles, 6,000 maps, 1,500 feet of archival documents, and more than 1,000 sound recordings. The collection forays out onto the museum floor in exhibitions such as Ancient Architecture of the Southwest, where striking photographs frame some of the crumbling archaeological ruins of 1,000-year-old cliff dwellings set against a rugged desert landscape while tastefully photoshopping out the ancient satellite dishes. The Pottery Project spans 2,000 years of Native ceramics with more than 20,000 whole pieces and a lab for hands-on pottery testing. Using artifacts, life-size dioramas, and film, Paths of Life explores the history and contemporary lifeways of ten Native cultures, including those of the Yaqui, O?odham, Apache, Navajo, and Hopi.
Museum staff further engage visitors in events that range from talks with museum curators and Native artisans to learning expeditions, which invite guests to tag along with museum and university archaeologists to survey nearby sites, immersing them in the scientific dig experience nearly as effectively as watching Indiana Jones with your nose to the screen. Educational outreach for public-school and university students immerses them in camps and workshops. At the Native Goods museum store, visitors browse a stock of books alongside basketry, jewelry, carvings, and textiles crafted by artists from Yaqui, Hopi, and other nations.
The International Wildlife Museum is a nonprofit institution that works to support various worldwide conservation efforts. More than 400 living and taxidermy-sustained species, plus illuminating exhibits and habitat re-creations, wow crowds of mammal fans and reptile skeptics alike. Visit the Scaly, Not Slimy! reptile exhibit with a significant other to bask in the romantic aura of the naturally top-hatted debonair tortoise, or pick up a family membership to get a year of unlimited museum access, two complimentary guest passes, and discounts on everything from museum programs to items in the gift shop.
Tohono Chul Park is an oasis of botanical gardens where guests can learn about the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert. With a double dose of general admission, two friends or inseparable enemies get a whole day to enjoy debating philosophy with saguaros and jackrabbits while wandering along scenic trails, exploring beautiful gardens, and viewing art exhibits that represent the Southwest’s nature and culture. Discover closely guarded ecological secrets during tours such as the Walk in the Park, pal around with non-poisonous snakes and lizards in the Reptile Ramble, or release an inner child from your knapsack while listening to traditional tales during Stories in the Garden for Children.
A diverse array of evocative and provocative pieces adorn the hallowed halls at the Tucson Museum of Art, which has served up a sensory feast to art-hungry hominids for more than 85 years. Armed with a year-long membership, budding art archivists can light their Blackberry torches to explore the museum's cavernous archives of current and permanent exhibitions, eventually discovering the wormhole that thrusts them forward to upcoming exhibitions. More than 1,900 works representing approximately 2,000 years of pre-Columbian art populate the Art of Latin America collection, including some galleries hosted in the historic Stevens/Duffield House, and the Art of the American West collection showcases expressions of the regional landscape and cultures. Perched atop the former Presidio of San Agustín del Tucson, the museum complex includes access to five restored historic homes donned in distinct styles that span centuries of architecture, décor, and La-Z-Boy upholstery.
This museum of pint-sized pieces showcases more than 275 miniature houses, room boxes, and other collectibles that are organized into three categories: Enchanted Realm, History and Antiques Gallery, and Exploring the World. Leave the girth of planet Earth and enter the whimsical fantasyland of a tiny-sized Enchanted Realm. Interactive exhibits allow you to search for an elusive fairy within the goblets of a sentient tree showpiece or unearth scattered woodland creatures, snow villages, fairy castles, and witch compounds. Teleport through the blue, arched rotunda to the History and Antiques Gallery, which chronicles the significance of miniature relics throughout history and displays one of the oldest mini houses in the United States, dating back to 1775. Travel the floor as a nephilim Magellan in the Exploring the World section, which surveys the cultural value of miniatures from other countries.
The Jewish History Museum's mission is twofold: to teach visitors about Jewish heritage in the American Southwest and to preserve the site of Arizona's first synagogue. Visitors are invited to examine carefully curated exhibits inside this historical building.
Eye Catcher: Through photos and stories, the Holocaust History Center honors the lives of survivors.
Significant Artifacts: Among the prized artifacts is a pocket watch whose face is inscribed with Hebrew, a gift to Jewish soldiers during World War I. Also on display is an 1897 Mexican coin that was found in the synagogue's cornerstone.
Don't Miss: Every January, the museum hosts an exhibit of ornate Ketubah and lavish vintage wedding dresses. One dress features beadwork so intricate that it weighs 42 pounds.
Past Exhibits: Skullcaps and Shul Hats displayed collections of head coverings that included intricately designed shul hats and carefully woven yarmulkes from Afghanistan.
The Building: Built in 1910 as a synagogue, it fell into disrepair after the congregation outgrew it; it was opened as a museum in 2008 and is today recognized as the first synagogue in Arizona.
From the Press: "The museum specializes in found objects?amazing stuff that somehow made its way out of owners? hands and into this house of treasures." ? Zocalo
Leave Your Mark: In keeping with the Jewish tradition of placing stones at grave sites as a sign of permanence, visitors are invited to leave one in the Holocaust Center as a tribute to the survivors.