The mission of the Heard Museum is to be the world’s preeminent museum for the presentation, interpretation and advancement of American Indian art, emphasizing its intersection with broader artistic and cultural themes. – heard.org
What turned out to be a wonderful visit was our journey to the Heard Museum in Phoenix. The museum has a large beautiful courtyard and it just so happened to have a group of Indian silversmiths on-site the day that we visited. The courtyard was bustling with visitors and artisans alike. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch while listening to live music that flowed through the courtyard. Celia and I could have stayed in this inviting courtyard all afternoon.
The private not-for-profit museum was full of surprises, from the Sandra Day O’Conner Gallery to the Barry Goldwater Hopi doll collection. There was even a “desert wall” type of display with work from a former Dale Chihuly student. As blog readers will know, Chihuly is a favorite since the time of the exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Art.
We were fortunate enough to participate in a docent led tour by guides who truly enjoyed showing visitors the amazing pottery, silverwork, textiles, etc. of the museum. We could not help but notice that the collection was far superior in quality in contrast to other locations we have visited. Most of the displays are divided by the various Indian groups of which New Mexico and Arizona are well represented.
There we many, many examples of amazing silver work.
There is also extensive pottery displayed from various groups and time periods with emphasis on people who currently are continuing the artisanal tradition.
Other interesting displays included large T.C. Cannon and Awa Tsireh exhibits.
Arizona can grow on you and if you are stuck for a while in one place this is a good one. Having lunch outside in January is hard to beat and the Heard Museum is just a short walk away from the Phoenix Art Museum. While I left my camera in the truck, the iPhone did bail me out.
If you go, allow plenty of time, bring your camera, and stay for lunch.