From the 1796 oil-painted image of George Washington by Gilbert Stewart featured on the dollar bill, to modern couture fashion, ancient Japanese samurai armor-wear and even works by Monet or special exhibits featuring drawings by the likes of Michelangelo, the Phoenix Art Museum is vast and varied in its collections. The 285,000-square-foot space spans four floors and has grown to become the largest art museum in the southwestern United States and a top Phoenix visitor destination since its 1959 opening. Days could be spent examining the 18,000 pieces of contemporary, fashion, modern and photographic art as well as traditional American, Asian, European and Latin American art in its regular collections. Out of state visitors will appreciate the region-evoking Western American collection in the upper level’s north wing.
Live performances, festivals, lectures, independent art films shown in its 300-seat theater and the PhxArtKids Gallery—which encourages families to think creatively and make art onsite—make this an interactive, conversation-evoking space. The first Friday of each month, the museum stays open til 10 p.m. and a trolley connects it with other art and culture destinations downtown. The onsite Palette restaurant serves modern lunch and snack options featuring locally-sourced produce alongside Arizona-made wine and beer.
The museum is located at 1625 N. Central Ave and is accessible by Light Rail via the Number 10 station at McDowell and Central Streets. Paid visitor parking is one block north of the museum and can sometimes fill up. Water bottles and food are not permitted in gallery spaces. The Phoenix Art Museum is open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $10 for students and $6 for children ages 6-17 (younger children are free). Docent-guided tours run three times during the day Wednesday through Sunday for an additional fee.