Category Archives: Museums

Sedona visitors enjoy archaeology along the Colorado River exhibit

[Source: Gateway to Sedona] — A new exhibit by Flagstaff adventure photographer Dawn Kish, Grand Archaeology: New Excavations along the Colorado River, will be featured during Archaeology Awareness Month, at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. The exhibit, which will run through July 13, documents recent archaeological excavation and research in Grand Canyon National Park, conducted by MNA in partnership with GCNP. The exhibit is made possible through the generous support of the Grand Canyon Association. “The Grand Canyon archaeological project between the Grand Canyon National Park and MNA is the first major archaeological project within Grand Canyon National Park in a generation and provides a unique opportunity to study sites along the Colorado River corridor. It is hoped that this project will provide new information about the lifeways of the people who lived in the Grand Canyon in the past,” said MNA Director Robert Breunig.

The exhibit’s featured excavation is part of a project focused on nine archaeological sites. The project began in 2005 and will continue through 2011, with excavations being led by MNA Archaeologist and Principal Investigator Ted Neff and Grand Canyon National Park River Corridor Archaeologist Lisa Leap. In the mid-1980s, Grand Canyon National Park archaeologists noted an increase of erosion at a number of sites along the Colorado River due to natural deterioration, visitor impact, and overall sediment depletion caused by the operation of Glen Canyon Dam. These excavation and research efforts will, therefore, collect valuable information about past life ways in Grand Canyon before it is lost forever.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Dawn Kish.]

Phoenix’s Grace Court developer to unveil public arts projects

[Source: Downtown Phoenix Journal] — Broadreach Capital Partners will unveil two important public art projects in downtown Phoenix on Friday, April 4, as well as celebrate the grand opening of the Phoenix Madison Square Garden Museum at the dedication ceremony of its Grace Court project, a recently completed 300,000-square-foot office complex. The Phoenix Madison Square Garden Museum, which is located within the Grace Court project (pictured), was created by Broadreach to commemorate the famed arena. The museum pays homage to Phoenix Madison Square Garden’s pugilistic and entertainment history through interpretive displays illustrating key events, activities and personalities, according to historian Vincent Murray.

Built in 1929 for professional boxing and wrestling matches and named after the famous venue in New York City, the largest indoor arena in Phoenix at the time soon became an established venue for many local entertainment acts, including Wayne Newton, Marty Robbins and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Duane Eddy who made his debut at Phoenix Madison Square Garden. These and other activities are memorialized on the bronze plaques mounted on a simulated boxing ring. Visible steel trusses from the original building as well as salvaged plaster ornaments are also incorporated into the museum’s design. Two nine-foot abstracted bronze figures titled The Opponents sculpted by artist Rebecca Thompson are located at the front of the Museum on Seventh Street and serve as guardians of the site, according to the artist. Also being unveiled is Thompson’s The Phoenix, a sustainable 28-foot rammed earth monument that was designed as a gateway feature to the western entrance to downtown.

“The Phoenix myth is primarily about transformation and renewal, and I designed ‘The Phoenix’ sculpture to embody a metaphorical balance of the elements, earth, water, wind and fire,” says Thompson. The extremely labor-intensive sculpture made of 80 tons of local soils, sand, clay and cement, reveals fish and other aquatic life forms modeled in bronze plates that wrap around the monument like a river. “The Phoenix is the first and largest of its kind in Arizona,” says Thompson. The unveiling of the art projects and the opening of the museum will take part in conjunction with First Friday Art Walk, a free self guided tour of galleries, studios and art spaces that runs from 6 to 8 p.m. April 4. Grace Court is a recently completed 300,000-square-foot office complex in downtown Phoenix. It includes the renovated historic Grace Court School, three new office buildings, and an 800-car garage. [Photo source: Arizona Republic.]

Mesa cashing in on museums’ success

[Source: Lindsay Butler, East Valley Tribune] — Mesa’s two museums have earned far above what they expected this year, and plan to have a large enough surplus next year to return more than $60,000 to city coffers. Mesa Arts and Culture director Johann Zietsman attributed the success at the Arizona Museum of Natural History (pictured) and the Arizona Museum for Youth to creative tactics and innovative people. “This is a huge achievement,” Zietsman told the City Council during a budget presentation Thursday. The Arizona Museum of Natural History budgeted $325,000 in revenue this year, but expects to earn $400,000.

Next year’s revenue was budgeted at $344,000 but is expected to total $430,000, allowing the museum to give $43,000 back to the city. Meanwhile, the Arizona Museum for Youth budgeted $162,000 this year but will reach more than $216,000. Next year the museum expects a $38,000 surplus and will send $19,000 back to the city. Vice Mayor Claudia Walters applauded the efforts of the Arts and Culture Department. “I am so impressed,” she said. “I just don’t think we can overstate the changes taking place with the perception and community buy-in.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Sharlot Hall portrayer plans appearance in Sun City West

[Arizona Central] — Jody Drake, a Prescott native, has won many awards over the past 10 years for her portrayal of Sharlot Hall. The Sun Cities Area Historical Society is pleased to bring her to Sun City West through a grant from the Arizona Humanities Council. Drake will perform at 1p.m. Friday March 28th at Heritage Traditions, 19303 New Traditions Way, Sun City West. The public is invited to this free presentation.

Sharlot Hall was an unusual woman of the frontier. Her family moved to Arizona when she was 12, and she grew up on an isolated ranch. She had a knack for poetry and a keen interest in collecting stories of other pioneers. Her interest in history led to her being appointed territory historian in 1909. In 1927, Hall moved her extensive collection of artifacts and documents into the Old Governor’s Mansion and opened it as a museum. After her death in 1942, a historical society continued to build the museum complex in Prescott that bears her name.

Drake has performed as Sharlot Hall for Gov. Janet Napolitano, former Gov. Jane Hull and retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, among others. She has been nominated for the Governor’s Art Award six times, and is honored to be one of 10 Arizona Culture Keeper award winners for 2007. For more information, call the historical society at 623-974-2568 or 623-975-1815.

Reception at the Phoenix Museum of History Wednesday

On March 19 at 6 p.m. the Phoenix Museum of History will host a reception for community members to learn about the new Friends of the Phoenix Museum of History auxiliary organization. The Friends support the museum’s mission to preserve and share the history of Phoenix and the many cultures that have shaped the region through fundraising events and volunteerism. The Friends welcome individuals who are looking to build new friendships, learn about Phoenix history and culture, and serve their community.

The reception will also feature author Al Bates who will be speaking about his new book Jack Swilling: Arizona’s Most Lied About Pioneer. Refreshments will be provided courtesy of Personal Touch Catering but all guests must RSVP, as space is limited. The reception is free and all guests will also enjoy free admission to the museum galleries after the author’s presentation. Anyone interested in joining the Friends will have an opportunity to meet other volunteers and the Museum’s Director to ask questions. Joining the Friends is free with museum membership. Friends receive a 20% discount in the museum store, free admission to the museum, invitations to special events and exhibit receptions, and more. To learn more about the Friends of the Phoenix Museum of History or to RSVP for the reception call 602-253-2734 ext. 224. Refreshments will be served. For more information about the Phoenix Museum of History and its programs, click here. [Photo source: Phoenix Museum of History.]

Arizona Capitol Museum in Phoenix seeks volunteers

[Arizona Reporter] — The Arizona Capitol Museum hosts more than 50,000 local, state, national and international visitors each year. Our tour guides have an opportunity to educate and enrich our visitors’ experience by telling the history of Arizona, its people, and its stories. The Arizona Capitol Museum is looking for enthusiastic volunteers to assist with educational programs by leading tours, assisting visitors and working with Museum staff. The Historic Arizona State Capital Museum is located between the current State Legislative House and Senate at 1700 West Washington in downtown Phoenix. The museum entrance is free with additional complimentary parking in Wesley Bolin Memorial Park, on the Capitol grounds. Benefits include exhibition previews, special event presentations and 10% discount in the Museum Store.

Hours of operation are weekdays from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Usual tour times are between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Positions are open now for Museum Guides. Training sessions are ongoing and all instruction is provided free of cost. You can volunteer a few hours a month or several hours a week. We invite you to come by the Museum and see what we have to offer. If you would prefer to have a representative of the Museum come and speak to your group about volunteer opportunities, please feel free to contact us. Without volunteers the Capitol Museum cannot fulfill its mission to preserve and provide access to Arizona’s rich history. We value the experience and contribution our volunteers bring to Arizona’s Museum. NOTE: The Arizona Capitol Museum is part of the Arizona State Library Archives and Public Records. PRESERVING ARIZONA, PROVIDING ACCESS. “We are very excited at the expanding role our volunteers fill at the Arizona Capitol Museum and hope to provide more to the public thru the increased involvement of a larger dedicated team.” For more information please call Jason Czerwinski, Volunteer Coordinator (602) 926-3731 or visit the museum’s website.

These kids know Tucson’s Barrio Viejo, and more

[Source: Stephanie Innes, Daily Star] — A youth docent program at a tiny Downtown museum will be honored today at the White House, partly for teaching Tucson children “the extraordinary history of their hometown.” The program at La Pilita Museum, which trains children ages 8 through 11 to lead site tours, is one of 18 community arts and humanities programs nationwide to earn a 2007 Coming Up Taller Award. More than 350 programs were in contention for the honor, says a news release from the award program. First lady Laura Bush is expected to present the awards. La Pilita Museum will receive $10,000 as part of the reward. Two representatives of the local program will be in Washington, D.C., to collect the award today — Joan Daniels, La Pilita’s development and education director, and former senior docent Jacob Mejias, who is 12 and completed his docent service last year. Jacob’s mother will also be at the ceremony.

Children, typically from Carrillo Magnet School across the street from the museum, usually participate in the docent program for three years. They must apply to be part of the program, which has between 15 and 20 young docents at any given time. The commitment is one hour per day, four days each week. Students conduct museum tours, tend the gardens and give histories of a vibrant mural, of the adjacent El Tiradito, a historic wishing shrine, and the El Ojito spring (pictured). They have interviewed dozens of residents of Barrio Viejo, where La Pilita is located, as part of an oral history project. Part of their training also includes studying local and Arizona history, and setting up exhibits at the museum. On Friday, the master docents, who wear blue caps and vests, were training youths newer to the program, reminding them why their jobs are special. Until they achieve master status, the junior docents wear orange caps and vests.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Greg Bryan, Daily Star.]

New Civic Tourism Book & Conference

Dan Shilling, past director of the Arizona Humanities Council, has recently released the book, Civic Tourism: The Poetry and Politics of Place, the result of a three-year project at Sharlot Hall Museum. Many readers may have attended the March 2006 national conference in Prescott, which was hailed by some as a “landmark” meeting. Another conference will be held this October.

Civic tourism is an extension of heritage tourism, ecotourism, geotourism, and other “place-based” models. The mission is to “reframe” tourism’s purpose, from an end to a means – from a growth goal to a tool that helps citizens preserve and enhance what they love about their place. Shilling suggests three strategies: (1) “Reframe Economics” encourages communities to connect tourism planning to contemporary restorative economic policies; (2) “Connect to the Public” suggests engagement practices that foster support for a responsible tourism ethic; and (3) “Invest in the Story” urges a robust financial and conceptual investment to place-making.

David Weaver, professor of tourism at the University of South Carolina, and author of Sustainable Tourism: Practice and Procedures, writes, “In his groundbreaking book on civic tourism, Dan Shilling invites your community to engage in a conversation about tourism and place that it cannot afford not to have.” The book, which is 128 pages, includes dozens of “conversation starters” and more than 80 best practices and suggestions. It is available from, and costs only $12.

The 2008 civic tourism conference will be held October 15-18, 2008, in the Blackstone Valley of Rhode Island, one hour south of Boston and one hour north of Newport, RI. The conversation has gone national now, even international, and the next meeting will feature more people who practice responsible, place-based tourism. For further information visit, or call Dan at 602-300-6694.