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The 11 Best Museums in Phoenix, Arizona [2024]

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Phoenix isn’t just Arizona’s capital; it is also one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the U.S. and is considered by many Arizonans to be the heart of Arizona’s art, music, and cultural scenes. So, it is not surprising that Phoenix is also home to some of the best museums in the Southwest.

Whether you’re interested in science, art, or history, there’s a Phoenix museum worth adding to your travel itinerary.

The Best Museums in Phoenix

1. Arizona Capitol Museum

Arizona Capitol Museum
Image Credit: Arizona Capitol Museum

Housing hundreds of artifacts that help capture the state’s history, the Arizona Capitol Museum is dedicated to educating locals and tourists on the area’s evolution. The museum is divided into 20 exhibit spaces showing how Arizona progressed from a territory to a U.S. state.

One exhibit, in particular, showcases how a state constitution evolves over time. This room displays 140 versions of the Arizona constitution written during the 102 years Arizona has been an official U.S. state. The museum also houses pieces from the USS Arizona, the battleship that served during World War I and whose later sinking at Pearl Harbor became a symbol for Americans fighting Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany in World War II.

The facility also pays homage to the area’s natural history. For example, the “Minerals of Arizona’s Historic Mining Communities” exhibit showcases the different natural resources found and eventually mined by Arizona settlers. Additionally, the museum frequently hosts special events, presentations for the public, and temporary exhibitions.

Admission is free for all visitors. The museum is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The nearest bus stops are Jefferson Street and 1700 West, and Jefferson Street and 17th Avenue. The nearest light rail station is about a mile away at Jefferson Street and First Avenue.

  • Address: 1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix, Arizona 85007

2. Arizona Science Center

Arizona Science Center
Image Credit: Arizona Science Center

Founded in 1984, Phoenix’s Arizona Science Center is a fun and dynamic educational center for people of all ages. Currently, the museum has 9 permanent exhibits exploring topics ranging from meteorology to technology to excite kids and adults about STEM.

In addition to the many displays, artifacts, and specimens in the center’s immersive galleries, the museum regularly hosts temporary exhibitions. Some of the most popular have been “Dogs! A Science Tail” and “Ocean Bound!” Additionally, the museum facility puts on events for the public, one of the most popular being “Snow Week” each winter.

The museum is also home to several other attractions that enrich science and learning. These include a large IMAX theater and the Dorrance Planetarium. These spaces host daily shows for visitors. The building has a lot of bright colors and loud sounds, so make sure to speak to someone on staff if visiting with someone with sensory concerns.

Admission is free for children under 3, $14.95 for kids 3 to 17, and $19.95 for adults. The museum is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The nearest bus stop is at Seventh Street and Washington Street.

  • Address: 600 E. Washington St., Phoenix, Arizona 85004

3. Children’s Museum of Phoenix

Childrens Museum of Phoenix
Image Credit: Children’s Museum of Phoenix

Since it opened, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix has been a beloved spot for families with inquisitive small children. The family-friendly museum welcomes people of all ages, but it’s particularly suitable for kids 10 and under who are just starting to learn about the world.

With over 300 interactive spaces to play and learn, the museum delves into topics from building and art to reading science. Virtually all of these exhibits have different difficulty levels to accommodate kids at various cognitive and motor development stages.

Some of the most popular play areas in the museum are the Climber, the children’s garden, and the play market. Additionally, the facility hosts a variety of special events and exhibitions throughout the year, like summer camps and family days. The museum is conscientious of visitors with sensory concerns and is happy to work with families to curate a fun experience.

Admission is free for children under 12 months, $16 for seniors 62 and over, and $17 for everyone else. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The nearest bus stops are Van Buren Street and Seventh Street, and Washington Street and Seventh Street. The nearest light rail stops are about a half-mile away at Third Street and Washington Street, and Third Street and Jefferson Street.

  • Address: 215 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, Arizona 85034

4. Earth and Space Expedition Center

Earth Space Expedition Center
Image Credit: Earth & Space Expedition Center

Though initially designed for children, the Earth and Space Expedition Center has become a favorite place for people of all ages. The museum is dedicated to teaching the public about space and the Earth to help inspire future generations to preserve the planet and go on adventures.

The museum displays artifacts, photos, models, and more to help visitors understand space exploration and the work of NASA scientists and astronauts. To ensure visitors of all ages are entertained and enriched by the museum, the exhibits use a combination of traditional displays and more interactive elements.

Some of the facility’s most popular attractions are its wind tunnel and planetarium, which help hold up both pillars of the museum’s topics of interest. The museum is self-guided but hosts educational events and tours throughout the year. The space can also be rented for private events, including team-building retreats.

Admission is free for children under 6 and students in the Paradise Valley school district, $8 for children, $9 for seniors and military personnel, and $10 for other adults. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The nearest bus stop is Union Hills Drive and 44th Street.

  • Address: 17835 N. 44th St., Phoenix, Arizona 85032

5. Heard Museum

Heard Museum
Image Credit: Heard Museum

Founded in 1929, the Heard Museum began as the personal art collection of the facility’s namesake, Maie Bartlett Heard, and her husband, Dwight. This original collection consisted of artwork and artifacts from the ruins of La Ciudad, the home of the Hohokam culture, which lived in the region as early as 1,300 years ago.

In the years since, the collection has grown to over 40,000 items, including reference books, texts, photos, artwork, and artifacts. These items are related to Native American culture or made by local Native American artists.

The museum doesn’t just consist of galleries that showcase different works of art and important cultural items; it also has educational spaces, as well. In particular, the museum has a classroom and a stage for performances held throughout the year.

The museum also hosts a series of festivals and events throughout the year to help the public learn about and appreciate Native American customs.

Admission is free for members, visitors with Native American tribal ID, and children under 6; $10 for children 6 to 17 and students; $20 for military personnel and seniors 65 and over; and $25 for all other adults. A 10% discount is available if tickets are purchased online. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The nearest light rail station is Encanto/Central.

  • Address: 2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, Arizona 85004

6. Musical Instrument Museum

Musical Instrument Museum
Image Credit: Musical Instrument Museum

Since 2010, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix has celebrated music of all kinds. With over 15,000 musical instruments from over 200 different countries, it’s the world’s largest museum of its kind. The museum’s galleries are mainly divided geographically, allowing visitors to see the similarities and differences between instruments from the same region.

Some of the countries that are best represented, such as those from North and South America, include smaller exhibits dedicated to musical genres. In total, the museum has 15 exhibitions spread out across 2 levels.

The museum doesn’t just showcase instruments currently used worldwide but those that have been used historically as well. For example, the museum houses a Chinese tonggu, or bronze drum, from 1900 and a phet banam, a kind of fretless stringed instrument made in Nepal in 1880. The facility also has a 299-seat theater for concerts and lectures.

Admission is free for children under 4, $10 for kids 4 to 12, $15 for teens, and $20 for adults 20 and up. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest bus stop is at North Tatum Boulevard and East Mayo Boulevard.

  • Address: 4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix, Arizona 85050

7. Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix Art Museum
Image Credit: Phoenix Art Museum

With over 19,000 works within its walls, the Phoenix Art Museum is the largest museum in the Southwest dedicated to art. The museum aims to preserve fine art from around the world and collects pieces from a variety of periods.

Some of the galleries are geographic in nature, such as the Latin American wing. Others focus more on a medium or style, like the wings dedicated to fashion design and modern art. Artists represented in the museum include Pablo Picasso, Eugène Boudin, and Claude Monet.

Alongside the permanent collections, the Phoenix Art Museum hosts rotating temporary exhibitions. The museum is also a research and educational center and houses an extensive library of art books. 

Admission is free for kids under 6, $18 for kids 6 to 17, $25 for seniors (65 and older), and $28 for adults. Fees are waived on the first Friday of the month for entries from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The museum is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest light rail station is McDowell/Central Avenue.

  • Address: 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, Arizona 85004

8. Phoenix Police Museum

Phoenix Police Museum
Image Credit: Phoenix Police Museum

Established in 1995, the Phoenix Police Museum honors the city’s police department. Originally, the museum was intended to be a 6-month exhibit, but it proved so popular that it became a permanent museum. Today, the museum houses artifacts relating to the city’s police department, such as old uniforms, photos, equipment, and records dating back to the force’s inception in 1881.

The facility is rather small, but it houses over 10 exhibits, which display items like tools used by the Arizona Rangers, a Chevrolet Celebrity police cruiser from the 1980s, and the gate door of one of the first prison cells in Phoenix.

Another notable part of the museum is dedicated to Miranda rights, the legal rights of people arrested in the U.S. (and what you hear TV detectives recite as they put suspects in handcuffs). This gallery uses police reports, photos, and other records to provide historical context for the 1963 Phoenix criminal case that resulted in the establishment of one of the most important pillars of the U.S. justice system.

Admission is free for all visitors. The museum is open Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The nearest light rail station is Jefferson/1st Avenue.

  • Address: Historic City Hall, 17 S. Second Ave., Phoenix, Arizona 85003

9. Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum

Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum
Image Credit: Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum

Stretching over 90 acres, the Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum is meant to replicate what life in Arizona was like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The museum was created in the 1950s after a trend of demolishing old buildings left very little of historic Phoenix. The museum was formed to save some of the structures that hadn’t been torn down and preserve the area’s history.

Today, the museum consists of authentic and reconstructed buildings that help paint a picture of what Phoenix looked like when settlers began to put down roots in the West.

There are 10 original buildings, mostly private houses and cabins. The remaining 16 structures are reconstructions built using photos and records of original or similar buildings. Visitors can explore these buildings, which are furnished with authentic historic artifacts.

Admission is free for children under 5; $8 for veterans, public safety/police and fire, and seniors; $10 for kids 5 to 16; and $12 for adults. The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Address: 3901 W. Pioneer Road, Phoenix, Arizona 85086

10. Rosson House Museum

Rosson House Museum
Image Credit: Heritage Square

Built at the end of the 19th century, the Rosson House Museum in Heritage Square is a glimpse into Victorian-era life in Phoenix. It’s been fully restored to its 1895 state, both inside and out.

Each room in the home has been furnished with authentic and replica household items, furniture, and decor that would have been found in an upper-class home in the late 1800s. The home even has an exam room that emulates the studio the original owner used to practice medicine on the premises.

The Rosson House Museum can only be visited as part of a guided tour, which lasts about an hour. The museum also hosts a variety of family days throughout the year. The home is also available for events and photoshoots. 

Admission is free for children under 5 and $12 for everyone else. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The nearest bus stop is Seventh Street and Van Buren Street.

  • Address: 113 N. 6th St., Phoenix, Arizona 85004

“As the only remaining residential block of the original Phoenix townsite, Heritage Square is part of the fabric of Phoenix’s past. From the incredible preservation of the historic buildings to the wonderful educational tours and events, the Square offers a truly unique opportunity to experience the Valley’s diverse local history.”

Sarah Matchette, director of visitor engagement, Heritage Square

11. Shemer Art Center

Shemer Art Center
Image Credit: Shemer Art Center

One of the 31 Phoenix Points of Pride landmarks, the Shemer Art Center has been a pillar of the local community since it opened in 1984.

The museum hosts exhibitions regularly throughout the year to honor both contemporary and past artists. As a result, the center doesn’t have a permanent gallery and is, instead, always changing.

The museum doesn’t just focus on highlighting established artists, either, and accepts submissions from emerging talent. These exhibits tend to rotate every 2 months, but this can vary.

The museum also hosts workshops, classes, discussions, and similar events to support and inspire aspiring creatives. The museum’s exhibitions and workshops cover various topics and art styles, from architecture to sculpture.

Admission is free, but a $7 donation is suggested. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The nearest bus stop is at Camelback Road and Arcadia Drive.

  • Address: 5005 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, Arizona 85018

How To Get Free or Reduced Admission to Phoenix Museums

We’ve indicated with each museum whether or not children, students, or seniors receive free or reduced admission, but several other programs also offer similar concessions.

The Museums for All program offers free or reduced admission to museums through the U.S. for those receiving food assistance. Participating attractions include the Arizona Science Center and Children’s Museum of Phoenix in Phoenix and i.d.e.a. Museum and Arizona Museum of Natural History in neighboring Mesa, Arizona.

Bank of America’s Museums on Us program offers cardholders free general admission on the first full weekend of every month to the Heard Museum and the Phoenix Art Museum.

Participation is subject to change, so please check with participating museums before your visit.

Final Thoughts

Phoenix has no shortage of museums and galleries worth visiting in and around the Arizona capital. No matter what your interests are, there’s a Phoenix cultural space for you. With any luck, this list can help you narrow down which museum to visit first.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Phoenix city famous for?

Phoenix is known for a lot of things. For one, it’s the capital of Arizona. It’s also the largest city in the state, so it’s home to some of the best museums, activities, and entertainment in the southwestern U.S.

Does Phoenix have museums?

As the state’s largest city and cultural hub, Phoenix has numerous museums that cover a vast array of different topics. Art, history, and plant life are just a few of the diverse subjects covered by museums in the Phoenix area.

What days are free admission to Phoenix museums?

Not every museum in Phoenix offers free admission. However, those that do tend to do so on Wednesday afternoons. This isn’t a strict rule, though. So, some museums may choose to offer free exhibit admission on different days during the week or month.

Is there anything fun to do in Phoenix?

There are a lot of fun things to do in Phoenix, no matter your interests. There are renowned music venues, stadiums, and, of course, museums, all of which are worth visiting. As the biggest city in Arizona, it offers plenty to do.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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