Top 16 Museums in Arizona
Few things are more educational and enjoyable than spending hours wandering through a well-curated museum. (Museums in Arizona)
Arizona has a rich history, both in the natural history and the ancient and more recent history of the people who have lived and settled in Arizona over the centuries.
In museums, you can find ancient artifacts hundreds of years after their makers used them or see woolly mammoth fossils reconstructed into a complete skeletons atop their heads. There are always art museums worth visiting to see local artisans and artists worldwide.
If you have kids, science museums can be a hit! Practical, interactive exhibits and activities help your kids learn and have fun together.
No matter how you choose to enjoy your museum experience, you’re bound to find one that matches your interests somewhere in Arizona.
- Arizona Memorial Air Force Museum
If you’ve ever wanted to see World War II planes up close and even had the opportunity to fly the life of a lifetime in one of these historic planes, you’ve come to the right place!
The Arizona Memorial, Air Force Museum, is located next to Falcon Field Airport and run by a dedicated group of knowledgeable volunteers in aviation history.
Visitors can walk through a working hangar and board spacious planes and cargo planes. These planes are truly impressive to see in person and contain countless stories of the brave pilots who flew them during the war.
The museum houses at least 15 different aircraft and one or two airplanes from WWII during the Vietnam War that are still in service.
You can buy a seat in flight on one of these great planes, and you’ll feel like you traveled back to the 1940s.
You can tour the museum at your own pace or take a one-hour guided tour with a volunteer to hear about the history and triumphs of each aircraft in its collection.
A visit to the Arizona Memorial and Air Force Museum is well worth a visit for any history buff or aviation enthusiast.
- Address: 2017 N Greenfield Road, Mesa, AZ 85215
- Fee: Adults – $15, Children – $5, Seniors – $12
- Hours: Wed-Sat 10 am-4 pm
- Website: https://www.azcaf.org/
- Arizona Museum of Natural History
Located in downtown Mesa, the Arizona Museum of Natural History is a family-friendly place to spend an afternoon.
Right as you walk into the lobby, the fossilized skeleton of giant woolly mammoth towers above; He roamed the American continent thousands of years ago, and there are many ancient dinosaur and mammal fossils to see throughout the museum.
In addition to the natural history of Arizona, there is also a human side to account for. In this museum, you’ll find a section dedicated to the first Europeans to visit the region, who were the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s.
In the next exhibit, you’ll travel back to the 1800s in the Wild West and the days of gold miners. There are also original prison cells from that era, which give a spooky feel to this part of the exhibition!
The Arizona Museum of Natural History houses fossils from every era of Earth’s ancient history and lets you take a step back from a time when dinosaurs and giant animals roamed the Earth. Many of these are skeletal replicas, but many are also real fossils.
The Paleo Dig Pit is especially fun for kids, who pretend to be paleontologists and dig up dirt for long-lost fossils.
Exhibits throughout the museum are interactive and engaging, and the gift shop also features toys and dinosaur-themed games and hobbies for kids.
- Address: 53 N McDonald’s, Mesa, AZ 85201
- Fees: Adults- $13, Children- $7, Seniors- $10
- Hours: Tues-Sat 10 am-5 pm
- Website: https://www.arizonamuseumofnaturalhistory.org/home
Arizona Science Center
Another great museum for kids and families is the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix, which has more than 350 hands-on exhibits. It’s easy to spend a few hours here learning about all aspects of science.
Make it! The exhibit lets your kids be creative and build whatever their little minds can come up with using Legos, giant foam blocks, and cardboard boxes.
They can dig in with a kid-sized bulldozer and digger or use a large chalkboard wall for architectural design.
The domed planetarium theater makes you feel like you’re in the middle of space (just with more oxygen!) when you watch educational videos about our solar system. Kids especially will enjoy feeling like they are flying through the stars.
The Force of Nature exhibit lets you experience what it would feel like to have some of the most severe weather on Earth as real-life meteorologists explain the science behind weather and natural disasters in engaging videos.
Other exhibits and exhibits are designed to help you and your child learn about physics, weather, chemistry, and other areas of science. You can easily spend several hours here, and you will leave your mind full of new knowledge. (Museums in Arizona)
- Address: 600 E Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85004
- Fee: Adults – $20, Children – $15
- Hours: 10:30 am to 4 pm
- Website: https://www.azscience.org/
Renowned as one of Phoenix’s first museums and cultural attractions, the Heard Museum was founded by Mae Heard a few months after the death of her husband, Dwight Heard.
In 1929, opening a museum as a widowed woman wasn’t ideal, but Mai took a risk and opened a space for her art collection, and it flourished.
Since its inception, the Heard Museum has undergone many improvements, upgrades, and expansions.
Today, it is one of the premier museums of Native American art in the world and is renowned for the quality of the exhibits and collections.
The museum features antique artifacts; fine art donated or on loan to the museum, and even handmade jewelry.
Art is made from stone, water, and vegetation in an outdoor area. The Scott L. Libby, Jr. Amphitheater provides a venue for music and dance exhibitions, with seating for a few hundred people.
Events and festivals at the Heard Museum bring in more than 40,000 visitors annually and are a large part of the museum’s continuing legacy.
Suppose you’re interested in the history of the people who lived in Arizona before and after the arrival of Europeans in this corner of the American Southwest. In that case, the Heard Museum has more than enough for you to enjoy. (Museums in Arizona)
- Address: 2301 N Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004
- Fees: Adults – $17, Children – $9, Seniors – $14
- Hours: Tues-Sun 10 am-4 pm
- Website: https://heard.org/
- IDEA archive
This museum is all about kids, with exhibits and exhibits that are fully interactive and teach your kids critical thinking skills, early learning skills, and above all, have fun while they learn! Take-home activity kits help keep the fun going long after your trip.
The exhibitions are changing, so each visit you take with your family is a unique experience. Current exhibits include “Robo art,” allowing children to learn about robots, how they are built, their techniques, and engineering in all ways quickly understood and enjoyed by children.
The i.d.e.a website also has an entire page dedicated to at-home activities that nurture learning and creativity after you visit the museum. i.d.e.a.
The museum’s ultimate goal is to bring back creativity and early education in children, as it is something they feel is on the decline.
This museum is fun and engaging for the whole family, and most families come back again and again to enjoy the ever-changing exhibits. (Museums in Arizona)
- Address: 150 W Paper Place, Mesa, AZ 85201
- Fee: $9, free for those under 1 year old
- Hours: Tues-Sat 9am-4pm, Sun 12pm-4pm
- Website: https://www.ideamuseum.org/
Musical Instrument Museum
MIM, as it is affectionately called, is home to 8,000 devices from more than 200 countries worldwide. It has one of the deepest collections of musical instruments in the world and has some scarce and expensive tools in its collection.
The beauty of the exhibitions and concerts annually reflects their visitors.
The Artist Gallery presents instruments used by famous musicians and artists, such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Maroon 5, Buddy Rich, and Roberta Flack.
The Geographical Gallery takes you on a musical journey worldwide, with little-known instruments hailing from the most remote corners of the globe.
MIM is the world’s top global instrument museum and well worth a visit for anyone, musician or not. (Museums in Arizona)
- Address: 4725 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85050
- Fee: Adults – $20, Teens – $15, Children – $10
- Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Website: https://mim.org/
Navajo Nation Museum
The Navajo people have historically been the most populous of all of Arizona’s indigenous peoples, and their history is rich and storied.
The Navajo Nation Museum is one of the few curated collections on Navajo land and is home to artifacts, photographs, and displays of Navajo artwork and jewelry.
The Silver Stars jewelry exhibit features handmade gems and jewelry from more than 80 Navajo artisans from all over the Southwest.
Another exhibition showcases the exquisite handiwork of Navajo basketry, along with more than 80 different hand-woven baskets.
Other exhibits throughout the museum are clothing, artwork, tools, photographs, and written histories and stories that have been passed down through generations.
Many of the items on display have been generously donated to the museum by families in the Four Corners area.
Although this museum is in a relatively remote area of Arizona, it is always worth a visit to learn more about and honor the Navajo people who have lived here for centuries. (Museums in Arizona)
- Address: Hwy 264 & Postal Loop Road, Window Rock, AZ 86515
- Fee: Free
- Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Website: http://navjopeople.org/nnm/
Pima Air and Space Museum
This massive museum is mostly outdoors, covering 127 acres in total; There are more than 300 planes on 80 acres of that land spread out in the Arizona sun. There are also six indoor hangars, which house a few dozen more aircraft.
These aircraft vary from World War II-era aircraft to older Boeing jetliners to smaller single-person aircraft. All planes have their own stories and a history behind them.
The museum became official in the 1970s and is now one of the world’s most significant air and space museums.
The Pima Air and Space Museum’s collection houses rare finds, including the famous B-24 and the world’s largest paper airplane.
The Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame is housed in this museum, which displays photos, stories, and planes from Arizona’s most iconic aviators.
You could easily spend an entire day wandering the hangars and outdoor areas, and it’s worth coming back a few times to be able to see it all. A visit to the Pima Air and Space Museum is a must for aerospace and aviation lovers. (Museums in Arizona)
- Address: 6000 E Valencia Road, Tucson, AZ 85756
- Fee: Adults- $16.50, Children- $10
- Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Website: https://pimaair.org/
Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum
Located on a 90-acre property within Phoenix city limits, this museum is unique in that it features buildings rather than art; The 30 buildings are either original or reconstructed versions from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The log cabin where Arizona’s first senator grew up is located in Pioneer Village, along with a blacksmith, costume shop, a grand Victorian house, and many other incredible relics of the Wild West.
When Pioneers settled in Arizona, they found a harsh environment, but they were very adept at their ability to live off the land.
Some buildings were built of adobe bricks or mud bricks, and others were log cabins, brick, and shiplap.
The Musical Instrument Museum believes that music is the language of the soul, and they
Volunteers run the museum and are more than happy to help educate you about each building when you visit the village.
When you come to enjoy the Pioneer Living Museum, bring a hat, water, and sunglasses, as you will be walking outside in the sun! (Museums in Arizona)
- Address: 3901 W Pioneer Road, Phoenix, AZ 85086
- Fee: Adults- $10, Children- $8
- Hours: Wed-Sun 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Website: https://pioneeraz.org/
Tucson Museum of Art and History Block
Three floors of performing arts are enough to spend a few hours here. The Tucson Museum of Art and History takes you back through the years, showcasing decades and even centuries of art from around the world.
The Latin American Art section of the museum displays some incredible and rare paintings and sculptures from artisans from Central and South America.
The museum carefully honors the legacy of the artists who shaped art culture in the Southwest. The museum layout allows you to take your time and enjoy the intricate artwork.
The Tucson city block on which the museum is located is known as the Historic Block, which includes old homes and businesses dating back to the late 19th century.
Visiting any of these houses or buildings adds to the overall historical learning you get when visiting this part of Tucson.
Current exhibitions include Asian Art, Indigenous Art, Women Artists, Contemporary Latin Art, Colonial Art, and more.
The Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block is one of the premier museums in the Southwest for art enthusiasts. (Museums in Arizona)
- Address: 140 North Main Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85701
- Fees: Adults – $12, Children – Free, Seniors – $10
- Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Website: https://www.tucsonmuseumofart.org/
Arizona History Museum- Tucson
Mining of any kind, such as gold, silver, or copper, is a prolific part of Arizona’s history; The Arizona History Museum lets you delve deeper into the old Wild West and mining days.
Other exhibitions include a transport gallery, ranging from horseback riding and carriages to vehicles and trains.
Some of the most treasured items in the Arizona History Museum’s collection include famous firearms, iconic jewelry, Spanish colonial gems and coins, and uniforms from wars in the 1800s.
You can also walk through a replica of an underground mine to help you appreciate the daily dangers these miners face.
The history of the Southwest is decadent and rich, and the Arizona History Museum captures it perfectly.
The museum periodically hosts workshops, field trips, and educational and art history classes. The curators of this museum seek to connect people across generations by telling them about Arizona’s history. (Museums in Arizona)
- Address: 949 E 2nd Street, Tucson, AZ 85719
- Fee: $12
- Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-2pm
- Website: https://arizona historyalsociety.org/
Besh-Ba-Gowah Archaeological Park
Located in the small town of Globe, Arizona (about 60 miles east of Phoenix), this museum houses the ruins of an ancient settlement of the Salado people.
The name “Besh-Ba-Gawwa” is Apache for “place of metal,” which the Apache people named the city of the globe when it was first founded.
The ruins have been partially restored after centuries of weathering and destruction. The ruins, a nearby museum, a botanical garden, and a gift shop make it a pleasant place to learn more about Arizona’s ancient history.
The ruins are beautiful to look at and give you a good snapshot of what life must have been like for the Salado people, who lived here two centuries before Columbus set foot on the continent.
Inside the museum, you’ll find artifacts, pottery, woven blankets and baskets, and short educational videos.
This museum is off the beaten path and by far the most miniature museum on our list, but it is well worth your time; Very few remains of Arizona’s ancient inhabitants exist today, and visiting the Besh-Ba-Gouwa Archaeological Park gives you a glimpse into the times. (Museums in Arizona)
- Address: 1324 S Jesse Hayes Road, Globe, AZ 85501
- Fee: $5
- Hours: 9am-3:30pm
- Website: https://www.globeaz.gov/visitors/besh-ba-gowah
Cocopa Museum and Cultural Center
The Cocopa people have lived along the Colorado River near present-day Yuma in Arizona for centuries. Their museum and cultural center celebrate that long history and keep their culture alive today.
The museum’s exterior is a replica of a traditional cocoa dwelling made of wood and wooden walls, with grass and branches on the roof.
Walking inside the small but incredible museum, you’ll see recreations of warrior regalia, bark skirts, leather sandals, pottery, beadwork, and even musical instruments.
The museum and the 1.5 acres around it also serve as a cultural center, and many cultural events are held yearly.
For the Kokoda people, it is essential to keep their history alive through stories and dance. The Cocopa Museum helps tell their story. (Museums in Arizona)
- Address: 14533 S Veterans Drive, Somerton, AZ 85350
- Fees: none; donations appreciated
- Hours: Mon-Fri 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Website: https://www.cocopah.com/museum.html
Fort Huachuca Historical Museum
Fort Huachuca was the site of a 19th-century army camp when the United States Army of the Sixth Calvary established a defense system against local indigenous tribes.
It was founded in 1877, just a few miles from the current Sierra Vista, and today the renovated fort serves as a museum.
At the Fort Huachuca Historical Museum, you’ll find thousands of artifacts and photographs that tell the story of that tense time in Arizona history.
The fort has been used for various military training and exercises over the years and became a National Historic Landmark in 1977.
The beautiful adobe façade echoes the style of the Spanish missions built in the vicinity of the same period.
Inside, you’ll see photos of the soldiers who founded the fort and the men and women who kept it running for years.
Army uniforms, muskets, other firearms, equipment, saddles, and replicas of wagons and stagecoaches are just some artifacts inside the Fort Huachuca Museum. For those who love military history, this museum will certainly not disappoint. (Museums in Arizona)
- Address: 41401 Grierson Ave., Fort Huachuca, AZ 85613
- Fee: none
- Hours: Tues-Sat 9 am-4 pm
- Website: https://history.army.mil/museums/TRADOC/fortHuachuca/index.html
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West
Frank Lloyd Wright is a world-renowned architect who created incredible homes of unique design and breathtaking beauty.
His winter home, Taliesin West, is a masterpiece of architecture that appears to rise above the desert floor without disturbing the natural beauty.
Wright built this home mostly himself in 1937 with the help of apprentices and is an intimate look into his life and legacy.
He found the perfect plot of land in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains near Scottsdale, and the house (now a museum) enjoys views of the valley.
The house is so lovely; it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Site.
The house and grounds are open for guided tours only, and the volunteers who take you on tour are knowledgeable and passionate about Frank Lloyd Wright and his work. (Museums in Arizona)
- Address: 12621 Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85259
- Fee: Adults – $40, Children – $19
- Hours: Thursday-Mon 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Website: https://franklloydwright.org/taliesin-west/
Museum of Northern Arizona
Northern Arizona is a hotbed of indigenous history and natural history. Archaeologists, geologists, and paleontologists flock to northern Arizona to discover the region’s secrets of ancient people, volcanic activity, and prehistoric dinosaurs.
The Museum of Northern Arizona helps preserve artifacts from centuries (or more!) or history in one place for visitors to enjoy.
Some of the exhibits displayed in the museums include Natives of the Colorado Plateau, Female Artists in Northern Arizona (1900–1940), Southwestern Jewelry, and more.
One of the newest pieces in the museum is a large, flat-topped rock discovered at a construction site in 2020.
Above the boulder are small tracks carved into the limestone from a small prehistoric dinosaur that is not yet definitive. The footprints are well preserved and give us a glimpse into the past.
The collection of beautiful pottery, tools, and clothing tells the stories of people who have come and gone through the region over the centuries. More than 12,000 years of occupation are represented through these scarce artifacts.
This museum is one of the finest in the state of Arizona for preserving the stories and history of both people and animals, as well as the geological history of the area. Visiting the Northern Arizona Museum is sure to please any history buff. (Museums in Arizona)
- Address: 3101 N Fort Valley Road, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
- Fee: Adults – $15, Children – $10
- Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm
- Website: https://musnaz.org/
Visiting a museum can be a spiritual experience for some. A museum can also allow children to have fun and learn new ways. Some are quiet places of introspection, while others are practical and exciting.
All museums have something for us to learn from, whether it’s an air and space museum, curated fine art, the preservation of an ancient dwelling, or a stunning piece of architecture. Learning is a lifelong process, and visiting museums can help us along the way.
Arizona has a museum for you, whatever kind of history you’re interested in. Most of them are located in Phoenix and surrounding areas, but sometimes you have to go off the beaten path to find a new story, a new history, a new experience.
Whichever museum you visit, you will surely see a renewed appreciation for art, history, or science.
We hope you like our article on Top 16 Museums in Arizona.
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