The Heard Museum is said to have one of the finest collections of Native American arts and crafts in the world. With pieces dating back before the arrival of European settlers in the 15th century to more recent works, the range and quality of items make this an excellent place for learning about this country’s indigenous peoples, and the demonstrations, cultural displays and festivals that take place here make it a truly interactive experience.
The museum was founded by Dwight and Maie Heard in 1929 to display the collections of Native American art that they had built up during their travels around the local area. Their fascination with and love for the culture of the indigenous population still shines through today, and the museum has expanded to occupy two sites—one in Central Phoenix and one in nearby North Scottsdale.
This is a living museum, and although it contains 40,000 items from several hundred years of history, including paintings, carvings and sculptures, the focus is on the culture of Native Americans today and how this is being preserved and continues to develop. So there are also contemporary works of art, stories, pictures and videos of indigenous life, and classes teaching the techniques used to make these artefacts. The “Home: Native People in the Southwest” exhibit includes interviews with members of local Native American tribes talking about art, their daily lives and their relationship with the land.
Families will love the range of activities here, and everyone can enjoy making a piece of art inspired by what they see around them. Try your hand at bead weaving, make an Apache burden basket or have a go at intricate Yaqui paper flowers. There is always plenty going on here—from markets, to lectures, to the annual World Championship Hoop Dance contest! Visit the website for more information.
The downtown Heard Museum is open every day throughout the year, with the exception of Easter, 4th July and Christmas Day. Free parking is available and public transport stops nearby. Heard North also has free parking, as well as an art shop, a café and a garden filled with sculptures and native plants.
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Hyatt Regency PhoenixAU$212
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