Experience World Class Art at Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix art museum exterior

Visitor / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Phoenix Art Museum opened in 1959 and is a private, non-profit educational institution. It is the largest visual arts museum between Denver and Los Angeles.

Tip: The museum is a great place to go at any time of year because it is kept at a constant temperature of 72 degrees F to protect the works of art.

Phoenix Art Museum - Permanent Collection

Georgia O'Keefe painting at Phoenix Art Museum
Christopher Amrich/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

The permanent collection at Phoenix Art Museum in Phoenix, Arizona includes more than 17,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, modern/contemporary, Western American art, and fashion design.

For example, the display of 20 Thorne Miniature Rooms is a popular stop on a museum visit. They are replicas of houses in the United States and Europe depicting the architecture and interior design of their periods and countries. In the Western American Art collection, you'll find nearly 900 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints of the American West. The Asian Art collection at Phoenix Art Museum is extensive, comprised of more than 2,700 Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Indian, and Southeast Asian artworks.​


photography exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum
bobistraveling/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

In addition to the permanent collection at Phoenix Art Museum, they are always hosting traveling exhibitions that cover a wide range of artistic tastes. Photography, surrealism, graphics, fashion, cityscapes, sculptures, ancient art, and highlights of specific artists may be on the museum schedule during any particular year.

The Arizona Costume Institute is a support organization for the Fashion Design Department at Phoenix Art Museum founded to collect and preserve garments and accessories of historic and aesthetic significance and promote fashion as art through educational programs and fundraising events.

Tip: One-hour tours are led by Museum-trained volunteers either once or twice per day. There is also the Audioguide which is a self-guided tour. You can get information (in English and Spanish) about whichever exhibit interests you, and there are stops on the tour especially for kids.

Special Events

art exhibit room at Phoenix Art Museum
Regan Vercruysse/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

From time to time, Phoenix Art Museum is able to bring a very special exhibition to the area that affords local residents and visitors the opportunity to view and appreciate a unique and valuable collection. Often, these events are only showcased in a handful of museums nationally. Past exhibitions of this nature include Masterworks from El Greco to Picasso in The Phillips Collection, Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People, The Secret World of the Forbidden City; Splendors From China's Imperial Palace, Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art, Curves of Steel, and Mexico and Modern Printmaking.

These special exhibits are usually ticketed events, where you must visit the museum on a specific date at a specific time. Audioguides direct you through the ​artworks and displays. The charge for these shows is higher than the normal admission fee, but they are always fantastic events that are well worth the cost. Special items relating to the exhibit are available for purchase in The Museum Shop during those shows.

In 2014, the Hollywood Costume exhibition included about 100 costumes from a century of film, exploring the relationship between costume design and the art of creating movies that move and entertain.

Tip: Still photography (no flash) is permitted for personal, non-commercial use. Works on loan (not in the permanent collection) may not be photographed.

Programs and Workshops

Make and break a pinata with, Lalo Cota, at Phoenix Art Museum
Ms. Phoenix/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

There are plenty of opportunities to do something a little different at Phoenix Art Museum: movies, concerts, lectures, open gallery talks, and art classes.

The PhxArtKids Gallery has interactive and hands-on activities. A limited number of KidPacks are available to borrow at the Orientation room. The Kidpacks are child-size backpacks full of activity cards, puzzles, looking activities, and other creative challenges that correspond to art in the Museum's collection.

Tip: The Museum Store at Phoenix Art Museum is a great place to find unusual and lovely items for yourself or others. If you just need to shop​ but don't have time to visit the museum, check in at the admissions desk and they will grant free access to The Museum Store.

Visiting Phoenix Art Museum

phoenix art museum entrance sign
Alan Levine/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Phoenix Art Museum is located in downtown Phoenix, AZ at McDowell Road and Central Avenue. 

1625 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona 85004

How to Get to Phoenix Art Museum

Note: Phoenix Theatre at 100 E. McDowell is actually immediately adjacent to the Museum, on the same property and utilizing the same parking lot. The following directions work for Phoenix Theatre as well!

The entrance to the parking lot is on Central Avenue, just north of McDowell. Parking is free.

  • From the south: Take I-10 west towards Phoenix. Take the 7th Street exit, and keep right at the fork in the exit ramp. (Stay in the left-most right turn lane.) Turn right (north) onto 7th Street. At the next intersection, turn left (west) onto McDowell Road. Turn right (north) onto Central Ave.
  • From the west: Take I-10 east toward Tucson, and exit at 7th Avenue. Keep left at the fork in the exit ramp. Turn left (north) onto 7th Avenue to McDowell. Turn right (east) onto McDowell. At Alvarado Street, just past Central, make a left (north).
  • From the north: Take I-17 and exit at McDowell Rd. Go left (east) on McDowell Rd. At Alvarado Street, just past Central, make a left (north).

Phoenix Art Museum is accessible by light rail. Use the Central/McDowell station.

Additional Information

Free admission for all visitors on First Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Voluntary donations are accepted. Some special exhibitions may have separate admission fees.

Need to know more? Visit the Phoenix Art Museum website for admission details and hours. 

Tip: The restaurant here is called Palette. (It used to be known as Art Museum Café by Arcadia Farms.) It isn't just your typical vending machine cafeteria. Casual dining includes sandwiches, fresh salads, and desserts as well as a Sunday Brunch menu.

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