Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

Scottsdale Museum of the West

Judy Hedding

In the heart of Scottsdale’s historic district you can visit a stunning tribute to the spirit of the Old West in America.

Designed to embrace not only Arizona’s rich history, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West has as one of its objectives to allow guests to explore the transition of the Old West to modern era western U.S. It accomplishes this through art exhibitions, multi-media presentations, collections of western artifacts and memorabilia, films, lectures, storytelling, cultural performances and other programs. In partnership with Arizona State University, it will also be a learning center for studies of the West. 

Scottsdale’s Museum of the West opened in January 2015. Exhibits are located on two levels. At opening there were eight distinct exhibits:

  1. Inspirational Journey: The Story of Lewis and Clark Featuring the Artwork of Charles Fritz
  2. Process and Materiality: The Bronze Artistry of John Coleman with Erik Petersen
  3. Fine Art of the American West: People and Places
  4. The A.P. Hays Spirit of the West Collection
  5. Will James: Cowboy Artist and Author  
  6. Courage and Crossroads: A Visual Journey through the Early American West
  7. Confluence of Cultures in the American West: A Selection of Contemporary Artists from the Peterson Collection
  8. Heritage Hall

The exhibitions presented are on loan from various institutions and collectors. That means that they will change, and visitors may see new art and artifacts on repeat visits. Here is the current exhibition list.

Tidbit - While Scottsdale, Arizona might be known as a celebrity playground with upscale resorts and restaurants and fancy shops, the city boasts that it is “The West’s Most Western Town.”

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My Tips and 11 Things to Know

© Judy Hedding

Here are a few tips from my visit to the museum in January 2015, as well as some things you might want to know before you go.

  1. The museum is in Downtown Scottsdale, in the Arts District. It is a bit off the beaten path. You won’t see it from Scottsdale Road or Main Street. There is a trolley stop right at the museum and the trolley in Scottsdale is free. Check here for trolley information.
  2. Because of the museum’s proximity to many restaurants in the area, there is no cafeteria here. No food or beverage is sold or permitted anywhere in the museum.
  3. Reentry is permitted on the same day as your paid admission. That means you can visit the museum, go out for lunch, and come back later!
  4. There is an outdoor sculpture garden where you can sit and relax.
  5. Both indoor and outdoor spaces meet the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Standard for sustainability.
  6. While children are welcome here, only one of the exhibits that I saw during my visit would appeal to young children (and adults who are bored by art museums). I would start on the second floor and work my way down to the main gallery for the main attraction!
  7. There is a gift shop here with books and items that will appeal to  people of all ages who appreciate what some might consider typical western gifts – cowboy boot salt and pepper shakers, purses, coffee mugs, note pads, etc. Not the cheap, tacky variety items, I would recommend this gift shop if you are looking for something that is clearly from out West – maybe for your friends in Baltimore or your family in Chicago! See a photo of the gift shop here.
  8. The museum is open late on Thursday evenings, providing another destination for people enjoying the weekly Scottsdale Art Walk.
  9. Although it is on two floors, this museum is not huge. Unless you watch all the videos in their entirety and stop to study each bronze and painting, you probably will spend between one and two hours here. Perfect, I say!
  10. Photography is permitted inside the museum.
  11. My only gripe about this museum? The name! Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. It seems awkward to me. I doubt that anyone will refer to the place as “Western Spirit” and my guess is that most will shorten the name to Museum of the West or Scottsdale Museum of the West (instead of Scottsdale’s Museum of the West).

Tidbit - Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is owned by the city of Scottsdale and operated by a nonprofit called Scottsdale Museum of the West.

Page 1:  Scottsdale’s Museum of the West Overview
Page 2: My Tips and 11 Things to Know
Page 3: Location, Prices, Schedule, Contact

Continue to 2 of 2 below.
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Location, Prices, Schedule, Contact

© Judy Hedding

Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is closed on Mondays. On the other days of the week, the hours are:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday: 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.


3830 N. Marshall Way
Scottsdale, AZ 85251


Take Loop 101 Pima Freeway, exit Indian School Rd. Turn west on Indian School Rd. That's a right if you are coming from the north, or a left if you are coming from the south. Go past Scottsdale Road and make a left (south) on Marshall Way. The museum will be on your right, at 1st Street.

Free parking is available on the surrounding streets (no meters) or in the Public Parking Garage on the northwest side of the building.



Admission Prices (January 2015)

$13 per person
$11 for active military with ID and seniors (65+)
$8 students with ID and children ages 6 - 17
Free for children ages 5 and under


Even if you only intend to visit the museum a few times in one year, a membership is a good value. Membership benefits include year-round free museum admission, invitations to exclusive Members Only events, a 15% discount at the museum’s retail shop, additional discounts on Western Spirit classes and workshops, and early notification of upcoming special events. Check here to see the different membership categories.

Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West - Official Website


Facebook: facebook.com/scottsdalemuseumwest

Twitter: twitter.com/SMoWest

Tidbit - Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is located on the property that used to be the Loloma Transit Station, a transfer point for people using buses and trolleys.

Page 1:  Scottsdale’s Museum of the West Overview
Page 2: My Tips and 11 Things to Know
Page 3: Location, Prices, Schedule, Contact

Photos were taken in January 2015, and may not be representative of future exhibits at the museum.

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