Japanese Friendship Garden and Margaret T. Hance Park
The East comes to Phoenix at this garden and its Musoan ("Dream for the Future") Tea House (south side of Margaret T. Hance Park, 602/256-3204, http://phoenix.gov/parks/jfg.html, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat., Oct.-May, $1). Phoenix's Japanese sister city, Himeji, assisted in the design. Visitors leave their troubles at the gate to experience the simplicity and beauty of nature. You can participate in an authentic Japanese tea ceremony on the second Saturday in Oct.-May by reservation.
Margaret T. Hance Park runs in a long, grassy strip (actually atop the Papago Freeway tunnel) south of Phoenix Central Library and Culver Street. The park holds scattered monuments to Phoenix's eight sister cities, including a huge bronze panda sculpture from Chengdu, China at the park's east end. Parking is plentiful off Culver Street, west of Central Avenue.
Phoenix Trolley Museum
From 1887 to 1948, streetcars rattled down the city streets to almost anywhere you'd want to go. Car No. 116 now rolls again on a short section of track at the museum (1218 N. Central Ave., 602/254-0307 or 277-6627, www.phoenixtrolley.com, Sat. from Oct. to May, check for hours). Turn west on Culver Street just north of the Margaret T. Hance Park bridge.
Phoenix Art Museum
The nearly 17,000 works of art in this wide-ranging collection will take you to many different times and places (1625 N. Central Ave., 602/257-1222 recording or 602/257-1880, www.phxart.org, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Sun., until 9 p.m. Thurs., closed Mon. and major holidays, $9 adults, $7 full-time students over 18 and seniors 65 and up, $3 children 6-17, everyone gets in free on Thurs.). European galleries illustrate important themes and styles as far back as the Renaissance. Works in the American galleries span the years from Colonial times to about 1900 and include Western landscapes and bronzes. The Modern Art Collection represents many of the pioneers of European and American modernism such as Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, and Georgia O'Keeffe. Exciting works by leading international artists turn up in the very active Contemporary Collection. A partnership with the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson creates exhibits from world-renowned photography collections. The exceptional Asian collection reflects the heritage of China, Japan, Tibet, and Southeast Asia over the centuries. Exhibits of fashion design emphasize American trends of the 20th century but also include pieces by European designers. You'll marvel at the details of the famous Thorne Miniature Rooms, which re-create in intricate detail historic interiors of Europe and America at a scale of 1:12. Two large halls host major shows and you'll often find other visiting exhibits too.
You can check for presentations at the video theater or borrow an audio guide for additional background. Scheduled tours offer an in-depth look at exhibitions and collections. Talks, art classes, and other special programs for adults and children take place regularly. The Art Research Library holds more than 40,000 books, monographs, and other material; call for hours. Kids discover art projects and some touchable pieces in the ArtWorks Gallery. The Museum Store sells art, jewelry, crafts, apparel, cards, posters, and books. A cafe serves creative light meals during museum hours. (You don't have to pay museum admission if you're just visiting the store or cafe.)
The museum forms a large courtyard with the Phoenix Theatre's Main Stage and Little Theatre at the northeast corner of Central Avenue and McDowell Road. Free parking is available around the museum and in designated spaces across Coronado Road to the north. Some exhibitions may have a different fee and hours.
This world-famous collection (2301 N. Central Ave. between McDowell and Thomas, 602/252-8848 recording or 602/252-8840, www.heard.org, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily except major holidays, $7 adults, $6 seniors 65+, $3 ages 4-12) introduces regional Native American groups and reveals insights into many aspects of their cultures. You'll not only see some of the finest tribal art from prehistoric times to the present, but also gain an appreciation of how the Native peoples relate to their lands, stories, and family and spiritual values. Native people talk about their feelings in the video HOME: Native People in the Southwest, complete with beautiful photography and Native music. Displays of superb Native American jewelry—mostly from Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni artisans—show artistic skill and development of styles. Masterworks by Native Peoples of the Southwest showcases the museum's finest works, including a collection of nearly 250 kachina dolls that illustrate the complexity of the Hopi pantheon. You'll experience the worlds of Arizona's 21 federally recognized tribes in We Are! Arizona's First Peoples. The poignant Remembering Our Indian School Days: The Boarding School Experience recounts a system feared, hated, endured, and loved by Native American children. Families explore artistry and try hands-on activities in Every Picture Tells a Story. Other permanent and changing exhibit galleries hold large collections of Southwest pottery, weavings, basketry, and fine art, including contemporary Native American pieces.
The Spanish Colonial-style museum itself has a long history, and, in one of the original galleries, you can get a feel for how the collection looked on opening day in 1929 and how it has grown over the decades. Along the way you'll also pass through attractive courtyards graced with fountains, native flora, and sculpture.
Docents offer guided tours daily, and you can rent an audio tour. For deeper research, visit the extensive library. The museum's outstanding Shop and Bookstore sells authentic Native American arts and crafts, plus a fine selection of regional books; there's a children's corner too. Arcadia Farms at the Heard cafe offers a light breakfast and lunch each day inside or in a courtyard.
Major annual events to watch for include the World Championship Hoop Dance in early February, the Guild Indian Fair & Market on the first weekend in March, Katsina Doll Marketplace in April, and the Navajo Weavers Marketplace and the Spanish Market in November.
The museum has a branch with exhibits and a shop in North Scottsdale; check the website or call for details.
More than Art
On to North Phoenix