The Heard Museum – Focus on the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas


Phoenix, Arizona

On one of the warmest days yet this spring, my wife, Lynn, and I decided to spend some quality time in a museum that we were told should be on our list of places to visit in Phoenix. Our friends were correct.

We spent an interesting afternoon learning about several indigenous Native American groups that lived in the Southwest long before even the Spaniards came. We even discovered after we had lunch elsewhere that we could have enjoyed a nice lunch  in the Courtyard Cafe.

We took advantage of the hourly tours with friendly guides who, depending on the tour, explained in depth or highlighted parts of the museum collection. We spent a lot of time in the air conditioned comfort of the museum’s interior, but as you will see from my collection of photos, we spent some quality time outdoors in several garden areas as well. During our visit, a couple of Native American artists demonstrated their skills at screen printing. Lynn and I are now proud owners of two screen prints, now framed and hanging in our house. The prints were freely given to visitors with not even a request for donation.


Tours start at 10 AM and continue through the afternoon, each one hour in length. There is some duplication of the tours each day so you can schedule a block of time and get multiple tours that cover most of the museum. Get there early and spend the day, however, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy with dioramas and video presentations as well.


The museum, founded in 1929 by Dwight and Maie Heard, is internationally recognized for its portrayal of the life and times of the Native American, his arts and cultures. Our tour guide volunteer, Rick, presented a one-hour walk through the history of the early peoples of Arizona and New Mexico. Before retiring, Rick spent part of his life teaching in a boarding school for Native Americans. His unique perspective referenced on his tour gave us special insights after our tour concluded as we walked through the second floor exhibit of life in a boarding school in earlier times. The story of the museum and information about current exhibits can be found at their website here.


One current exhibit is the commemoration of the centennial of the release of the Chiricahua Apache people from the status of prisoners of war. In 1914 their release was accompanied by allotments of land in and around Fort Sill, Oklahoma. On display through April 3, 2016; the Houser/Haozous Family: Celebrating a Century features sculptures that show the pride, reverence and endurance possessed by the Chiricahua Warm Springs Apache. The exhibit is featured in a garden at the museum.

I submit for your approval a gallery of images collected at the Heard Museum on a warm spring day. Click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.

John Steiner




4 thoughts on “The Heard Museum – Focus on the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas

  1. We had talked about going here, but decided to do the botanical gardens instead, as we could stay there after dark… Next time I suspect we’ll check this place out. N & her Pops are into Native American culture.

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