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6 Ways to Make the Most of a Visit to the Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix Art Museum Painting

We scored well in the arts and entertainment portion of our month-long stay in Phoenix, Arizona. Our Sonder* apartment was just a few blocks away from the Phoenix Art Museum (PAM), so I made time to visit. Here are my tips for making the most of your visit to PAM:

1. Order your ticket(s) before you go.

Not only does it reduce your contact points, as I write this, according to the site, it saves you $2 per ticket. 

2. Check their site for Current Exhibitions.

Check their site for Current Exhibitions and peruse their Collections, so that you have an idea of what you most want to see before you leave. Spending more than a couple of hours exploring an art museum can be overwhelming. There’s always so much to take in and the Phoenix Art Museum is no exception.

3. Take a docent-led tour.

It’s a great way to get in depth information about the works of art before you. When the attendant scanned my ticket, she let me know that a docent-led tour was about to start. I joined the small group waiting for it to begin. While Chris and I visit museums often, it’s been decades since I’ve gone on a guided tour of any part of one.

The docent leading our tour of Landscapes of Extraction: The Art of Mining in the American West grew up in a mining town and could point out details common to mining landscapes and communities. She also guided us to two paintings of miners. One was painted by Lew Davis. He grew up in Jerome, a mining town, went off to New York to study art, and returned to Arizona during the depression. The other painting was commissioned by a mine. In the former a deep sadness is evident, while the latter shows strength. I love knowing and thinking about the reason for the difference in perspective. 

4. Visit the Fireflies.

The full name of the installation is, You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies, but if you ask personnel to point you in the direction of the fireflies they’ll know what you’re talking about. It’s a thoughtful, magical, and enlightening experience created by Yayoi Kusama. LED lights hang in darkness with mirrors reflecting them causing disorientation and the sense of being lost for a moment. My photo below does not do it justice. 

Phoenix Art Museum Fireflies

5. Marvel at the art of fashion.

More museums are curating and exhibiting fashion than ever before. As Dan Thawley wrote in Galerie magazine, “Once scorned by high-brow institutions as celebrating a lesser craft, fashion exhibitions have become highly attractive additions to the annual programming of museums and cultural centers across the globe.” I for one am grateful. The detailing, craftsmanship, and innovation can be stunning. While there, I saw Fashion’s Subversives. Soon, Generation Paper: Fast Fashion of the 1960s will be on display. 

6. Take Pictures for yourself, or Social Media

Phoenix Art Museum encourages photography (no flash allowed) and social media tagging: @phxart #PhxArt. When taking photos, be sure to capture the cards with artwork’s information in case you want to do further research on the piece. I forgot to do that with one not-so-popular painting at the Louvre that I loved and had to do quite a lot of digging to find its name.  Speaking of the Louvre, I had one of my most memorable art experiences there: Blurred Lines at the Louvre

Do you like exploring museums when you travel? Have any memorable museum experiences? We’d love to know more about yours!

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*In Minneapolis, Austin, and Phoenix we’ve booked our stays with Sonder