Located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, the Phoenix Art Museum is the largest art museum in the Southwest. The Phoenix, Arizona area museum spans a massive 285,000 square feet.
More than 18,000 works of art from throughout the world are permanently housed there, including examples of modern and contemporary art as well as fashion design from the Americas, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Western Europe.
Since its opening in 1959, it has served the local community as a hub for cultural and educational activities. Additionally, the museum’s partnership with the Center for Creative Photography allows for photography exhibitions. The museum’s landscaped Sculpture Garden is open to the public, and there are dining and shopping options available in The Hub. The Phoenix community has recognized it as a source of pride.
Art from the American West, the Far East, and Renaissance and Baroque Europe are all represented in the museum’s permanent collection. The museum features not only displays of modern and contemporary art but also fashion design, performances, and film screenings. The 203,000-square-foot building’s classically original design is an art form unto itself. New York architects Tod Williams/Billie Tsien & Associates conceived and built the structure in the mid-1990s and again in 2006. The structure’s art and architecture blend invisibly with the southwestern landscape.
Shortly after Arizona became the 48th state in 1912, the Phoenix Women’s Club was founded, and its members worked with the Arizona State Fair Committee to create a fine arts program for the fair. In 1915, the Phoenix Art Club laid the groundwork for what would become a significant public art collection in the city by purchasing Egyptian Evening by Carl Oscar Borg for US$125. In 1925, the State Fair Committee established the Phoenix Fine Arts Association, which remains active to this day, as part of its effort to broaden its commitment to the local community.
After being open since November 1959, the museum held its grand opening on November 21 of that year. Two years later, in 1963, the museum’s board of directors announced intentions to expand the facility, and by 1965, the museum’s footprint had grown from 25,000 to 72,000 square feet. Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects of New York oversaw the 1996 completion of further additions to the building. The museum has more than doubled in size, with the installation of new galleries for exhibition, a 300-seat public theater, a library, studio classroom facilities, the PhxArtKids Gallery, and a café.
The Phoenix Art Museum, which has since become one of the best in the Southwestern United States, is a reflection of the city’s growth from a sleepy desert outpost to a bustling metropolis.