Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West isn’t just a museum dedicated to the “Old West” or even the Southwest. Its creators call it a “storytelling center” that explores the nation’s 19 westernmost states from Wyoming and Texas to Hawaii and Alaska. You may see paintings by Georgia O’Keefe and sculptures by Allan Houser, but don’t be surprised to also find an exhibit on Hawaiian vases.
The museum, located at the corner of First Street and Marshall Way in Old Town Scottsdale, plans to explore a broad range of topics from frontiersmen to life on the Aleutian Islands, and rotates exhibits every six to 12 months through eight galleries.
Although its an art museum featuring predominantly paintings and sculptures, the museum also displays historic artifacts and other Western-centric items. One of the original exhibits included a large display of finely-crafted saddles along with ornate bits and spurs.
The architecture alone makes it worth a visit. Its exterior base is inspired by the plants and rocks you would find on the Southwest desert floor while the second story, made of steel with a patina on it, has a softer feel reminiscent of the plains. As you step inside, you smell organically harvested cedar and feel the expanse of the Old West. The space is meant to transport you to another place and time, and it does.
The Museum of the West was also designed to meet the LEED Gold Standard for sustainability. It features recycled materials wherever possible (you’ll see steel, the most commonly recycled metal in the world, everywhere) and conserves precious resources like water wherever possible.
While you’re there, check out the Weeping Wall in the museum’s courtyard. It drips rain water and A/C condensation that is funneled into a channel used to water the landscape.
Depending on your level of interest, you could spend an hour walking through the galleries or half a day. But do note that while there are a few kid-friendly activities, this probably isn’t the best choice for children under the age of 10.
For more information on the newest museums and galleries in Scottsdale, give us a call and anyone from The Matheson Team will be glad to tell you about our great city.