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Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West facts for kids

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Scottsdale's Museum of the West
Scottsdale's Museum of the West front view.JPG
Established 2015
Location Scottsdale, Arizona
Type American West

Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is located in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona on the former site of the Loloma Transit Station (N Marshall Way and E 1st St), and opened in January 2015. The two-story, 43,000-square-foot museum features the art, culture and history of 19 states in the American West, including Arizona. According to museum Director Mike Fox, “We are not a museum of objects, but a museum of ideas.”


Originally the vision of Herb Drinkwater (1936–97), Mayor of Scottsdale from 1980–96, the museum is owned by the city of Scottsdale and operated by a nonprofit called Scottsdale Museum of the West. The architectural firm Studio MA, based in Clifton NJ and Phoenix, designed the museum, landscape architects Colwell Shelor of Phoenix the surroundings. Built at a cost of $11.4 million, both interior and exterior spaces are LEED Gold Standard certified.

The building houses eight exhibit spaces, a 135 seat multi-sensory and multimedia theater/auditorium, a gift shop and a sculpture courtyard. Heritage Hall presents photos and bios of influential Westerners such as Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, Billy the Kid, notorious thief and gunfighter, and numerous others.

Inaugural exhibitions

The exhibits will rotate periodically; the 2015 opening presented the following ones:

  • Inspirational Journey: The Story of Lewis & Clark. Contemporary Western representational artist Charles Fritz (1955- ) retraced the route of the expedition (1804–06) and then chronicled it in 100 paintings. This exhibition will be displayed until October 31, 2016.
  • Process and Materiality: The Bronze Artistry of John Coleman with Erik Petersen
  • Will James: Cowboy Artist and Author. This exhibit presents the paintings, drawings, etchings, books, and ephemera of Will James (1892-1942) until May 31, 2016.
  • The A.P. Hays Spirit of the West Collection features saddles, spurs, holsters, revolvers and other quintessentially western items on loan from Abe Hays, collector and founder of Arizona West Galleries in Scottsdale. The items show the sublime union of the practical and the aesthetic.
  • Fine Art of the American West: People and Places. Works by artists such as Charles Bird King, Georgia O’Keeffe, Ed Mell, Allan Houser, Kate T. Cory, and Marjorie Thomas reveal the variety of themes, styles, and imagery of western art.
  • Confluence of Cultures in the American West: A Selection of Contemporary Artists
  • Courage and Crossroads: A Visual Journey through the Early American West

Exhibition in 2015-16

  • A Salute to Cowboy Artists of America and a Patron, the Late Eddie Basha: 50 Years of Amazing Contributions to the American West. Celebrating 50 years of the CAA, this anniversary exhibition — on display from November 7, 2015 - May 31, 2016 — features at least one work by each of the 77 artists who ever belonged to the CAA organization.
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