Shining like a desert star in the heart of historic Old Town Scottsdale, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West will be a premier cultural destination in a locale that has been called “The West’s Most Western Town.” Opened to the public on January 15, 2015, the City-owned museum boldly immerses its guests in the essence of the American West, past and present, through stunning artworks by renowned artists, historic artifacts of the Old and New West, interactive exhibits, multi-media productions, and an ongoing schedule of fun, educational programs and public events.
“Western Spirit is destined to become a second home for western American art connoisseurs and enthusiasts, as well as anyone who has ever been fascinated by the story of the American West,” commented the museum’s Director Michael Fox. “A point of civic pride for Scottsdale, Western Spirit will be a place where people of all generations and cultures can engage in contemplative and enjoyable journeys of self discovery—a place where Western history can be revealed, today’s region better understood, and tomorrow’s rich opportunities explored.”
Owned by the City of Scottsdale and operated by the Scottsdale Museum of the West (a not-for-profit 501c3 organization), Western Spirit stands on the site of the historic Loloma Transit Station (designed by noted architect Vito Acconci) and preserves elements of the station’s classic design, now repurposed as administrative offices and an education center. To this has been added an exquisite new 43,000 square foot, two-story main building designed by the Phoenix and Clifton, New Jersey-based architectural firm of Studio MA. The building’s entry walkway features a monumental installation piece, Diamond Bloom, by contemporary artist Curtis Pittman, acquired through the Scottsdale Public Art Program. Western Spirit resides on a beautiful campus designed by landscape architects Colwell Shelor of Phoenix and adorned with low-water use desert plantings. Both indoor and outdoor spaces meet the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Standard for sustainability, conserving precious natural resources while also raising public awareness of their vital importance to the western region.
The $11.4 million museum will feature rotating exhibitions of western art and cultural treasures on loan from some of the world’s foremost collectors and institutions. With exhibitions constantly changing, there will always be something new to see and experience at Western Spirit. Interactive games and activities as well as multi-media kiosks strategically located throughout the galleries will engage the interest of children and adults alike, providing insights into the art and artifacts on exhibit as well as topics such as Western geography, history, flora, and fauna. A partnership with Arizona State University will provide additional resources, enabling the museum to become a communication and learning center for studies of the West.
Visitors will enter the museum through the Scottsdale Charros Gateway Foyer, where the artist Maynard Dixon’s dramatic 1935 mural Kit Carson with Mountain Men is on display. Continuing from here on their journey of western discovery, visitors can explore exhibitions, storytelling, films and performances in the theater/auditorium, an outdoor sculpture garden, educational programs and research of the West, and more.