Look no further than Western Spirit: Scottsdale Museum of the West, which opened in early January after a long development journey lasting more than 30 years. It debuts as one of the Valley's most unique historical venues, where you can explore the life and work of cowboy-cartoonist Will James or follow Lewis and Clark on their journey across America.
The museum’s cedar and concrete-lined walls are home to more than 2,000 artifacts, paintings and sculptures that celebrate the West, from the first Hohokam dwellings to modern day ranches. At least half the pieces on display were created by Arizona artists, but many hail from decidedly non-Western climes, including the dozens of wagon wheels handmade by Amish communities in the eastern United States that hang from the lobby ceiling.
Every piece in the museum reflects the artists’ passion for accurately capturing the West. For example, painter Charles Fritz literally walked in the footsteps of explorers Lewis and Clark prior to painting “The Captains Lewis and Clark” (pictured right). “In order to ensure accuracy in the paintings, I traveled the entire route of the expedition twice, locating and visiting the sites of noteworthy events in the journals and painting field studies there,” Fritz says.
The museum’s collections, entirely on loan from 30-40 different lenders, will be showcased in exhibitions that rotate every 6-12 months. Western Spirit’s 135-seat auditorium hosts symposiums, performances and classes, along with an 18-minute feature film that uses Ken Burns-style effects on art pieces to tell the museum’s story.
Western Spirit: Scottsdale Museum of the West
3830 N. Marshall Way, Scottsdale,
Admission: $13, adults; $11, seniors and military; $8, students and children ages 6-17; children 5 and younger free.
Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tu-Sa, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Su, open until 9 p.m. for Scottsdale Artwalk Thursdays
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