Museum matters

On any given day, you’ll likely find a good 2.3 million of your fellow Americans marveling their way through one or more of the country’s 17,500 or so museums, according to the American Association of Museums

Stop monkeying around--let's celebrate International Museum Day!

If you’ve enjoyed a trip to the Phoenix Zoo lately, you can probably guess which type of museum wins the national popularity contest. It’s the perennial favorite of young and old alike: the zoo.

Second in popularity, according to the AAM’s “2006 Museum Financial Information Survey,” is the science/technology museum–something you’ve likely surmised if you’ve ever enjoyed a day at our own Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix.

Rounding out the top three are the country’s arboretums and botanical gardens–something we enjoy several of here in Arizona. Think Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix’s Papago Park. Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior. Even the Arboretum at Arizona State University in Tempe. 

Chidren’s/youth museums rank fourth, and again we enjoy several choices in Arizona–including the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa and the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

Fifth in overall popularity nationwide are natural history/anthropology museums. Arizona has the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa, the Deer Valley Rock Art Center and many more. 

Surprisingly, art museums rank just sixth. You’d never know it based on the popularity of our own Phoenix Art Museum and the wealth of smaller art museums throughout the Valley and state–including the University of Arizona Museum of Art, the ASU Art Museum, the Shemer Arts Center and others.

Seventh in popularity are nature centers, like our own Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix–where families can enjoy

Who says museums are for the birds?

activities like animal encounters, bird walks and spring nature story times.

General museums rank eighth in popularity nationwide–followed by specialized museums, historic houses/sites and history museums. 

Arizona offers spectacular choices among specialized museums from the new Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix to the Bead Museum in Glendale. 

Historic houses and sites in Arizona include the Arizona Capitol Museum, the Rosson HouseMuseum at Heritage Square in downtown Phoenix and more. 

History museums abound in Arizona–including the following museums featuring the histories of local cities and towns: Cave Creek Museum, Chandler Museum, Gilbert Historical Museum, Mesa Historical Museum, Scottsdale Historical Museum and many others. 

You may have gathered by now that I’m looking at a “cheat sheet” of sorts in rattling off the names of these Arizona museums. It’s the “Museum Listed by Type” page on the Central Arizona Museum Association website. 

Jump on the CAMA website to learn about special offers and admission discounts available around the Valley in celebration of International Museum Day (May 18th is the special day, but museum specials vary so check individual museums for details). 

Hey--I can see lots of museums from way up here!

You’ll find savings and special promotions for museums such as the Arizona Military Museum, the Arizona Museum for Youth, the Deer Valley Rock Art Center, the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, the Heard Museum, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Pueblo Grande Museum, the River of Time Museum, the Rosson House Museum, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Superstition Mountain Museum, Surprise Historical Society and the Bead Museum.

A few quick tips as you’re heading out the door to explore…

Call ahead to verify location, hours and admission pricing.

Be sure your child is well rested and has had plenty to eat/drink.

Take along a camera to capture museum memories.

Bring your ‘gift list’ for upcoming birthdays, graduations and other special occasions so you can hit the museum gift shop for unique gift items.

Most importantly, tell a friend what you see so they can enjoy the fun too! 


Note: I’ll have more to share tomorrow on why museums matter–culturally, economically and beyond. “On Exhibit” listings of exhibits and gallery showings around the Valley are always available online at the Raising Arizona Kids magazine online calendar.

 Coming up: Preview of “In the Heights” at ASU Gammage

Photos: Christopher Trimble (at the Phoenix Zoo)


One response to “Museum matters

  1. The Arizona Military Museum will be open 10 am to 4 pm May 21 through 23. It is located at the National Guard HQ at 5600 East McDowell. You enter the main gate, and the admission is free. It is normally open Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 pm but will close during June, July, and August for the summer. It portrays the colorful military history of Arizona from the Conquistadors, Spnish-Mexican era, the Indiand Wars era, the World wars, Korea, Viet Nam, the Middle East wars, etc. The phone number is 602-267-2676 or 602-253-2378.

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