Catch The Spirit: Museum of the West

Have you visited this Smithsonian affiliate?

Located in the heart of downtown Scottsdale, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is a visual delight. As you stroll through the picturesque Cactus Garden, the surroundings perfectly complement the museum’s architecture — desert xeriscape with saguaros as sculpture, designs in the sidewalk that resemble tooled leather, metal sculptures and steel gently oxidizing in the Arizona sun.

Designed by Studio Ma, the museum is LEED Gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. The structure is energy- and water-efficient and built with sustainability as a top priority. An example is the “weeping wall” in the Christine & Ted Mollring Sculpture Courtyard. The water trickling down its surface is from rainwater collected on the roof as well as water from the HVAC systems, which is then used for landscape watering.

The art and artifacts on exhibit inside the museum are from the Greater Western region, representing 19 Western states, including Alaska and Hawaii. “What surprises first-time visitors is the breadth and scope of Western heritage from all of the region, including Canada,” said David Scholefield, the museum’s marketing and communications director. “We represent the past, present and future of Western art.”

In a sunny corner of the first floor, Jeffrey White, the retail manager for the Sue and Robert Karatz Museum Store, welcomes guests. White was instrumental in opening the museum in January 2015 and is responsible for buying and merchandising the store’s inventory. “We wanted the store to be more than a ‘souvenir’ shop,” White said. “The product selection is based on patrons desiring to take something home to remember their enjoyable museum visit.” 

“Light and Legacy: The Art and Techniques of Edward S. Curtis” is the next major exhibition running Oct. 19, 2021, through spring 2023. The exhibition will feature original photographs from the Peterson Family Collection, and the store will sell reproductions of the art on postcards, note cards and limited-edition images. For each museum exhibition, the store curates books and other items to represent the art and artists.

The store features unique, hard-to-find items as well as selections from the Western region. Examples include whimsical Oaxacan wood carvings; Western-inspired children’s clothing, perfect for every day or Halloween; new or vintage pottery representing Arizona’s Native cultures; and Four Peaks Amethyst brand jewelry sourced from an active mine located in a cave on top of Four Peaks in the Mazatzal Mountains. 

Explore the full range of Western art, enjoy responsible environmental design and treat your senses to a trip to Western Spirit.

To learn more, go to scottsdalemuseumwest.org.

About Lisa Pagel

Lisa Pagel is Associate Publisher of Frontdoors Media.

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