Desert Cool: Two Hot Museums in Arizona

I’ve visited the Scottsdale-Phoenix area every six months or so for many years but only recently discovered two interesting museums there that I was previously unaware of: the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) and the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix.

SMoCA, founded in 1999, is  located in the Old Town district of Scottsdale in a former corporate movie theater that was turned into a sleek, minimalist building by Phoenix-based architect Will Bruder. When I visited in January, there was an exhibition of wonderful paintings by the Los Angeles artist Kirsten Everberg. She paints mostly LA scenes—iconic architectural landmarks that have been used as locations in movies—exploring the elusive line between fiction and reality. Her images are composed of elements she’s taken from films, photographs, and memory, and are painted in oil and enamel, so their glossy and colorful surfaces shimmer seductively. This was Everberg’s first major solo exhibition in a U.S. museum–she’s definitely worth looking at.

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, Arizona

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is housed in a former corporate movie theater transformed into a minimalist building by Will Bruder.

Cinema-LA-Theater-2010-Kirsten-Everberg

At SMoCA I saw an exhibition of  oil and enamel paintings by the talented LA artist Kirsten Everberg. This is Cinema, (LA Theater), 2010.

Bar, 2003, Kristen Everberg, oil and enamel on canvas over panel

Kirsten Everberg, Bar, 2003 

LA Mill, by Kristen Everberg

Kirsten Everberg, LA Mill, 2008

Kirsten Everberg, Cinema, Balcony (LA Theater), 2010, oil and enamel on canvas over panel

Kirsten Everberg, Cinema, Balcony (LA Theater), 2010

Church, Haut du Lievre, Nancy, 2005, Kristen Everberg, oil and enamel on canvas over panel, 72 x 108 in.

Kristen Everberg, Church, Haut du Lievre, Nancy, 2005

My other Arizona discovery, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, was founded by Robert J. Ulrich, former CEO of Target Corporation, and opened in 2010. The collection has more than 15,000 musical instruments from every country in the world. My favorite part was the Artists Gallery, where you can see and hear instruments from such celebrated musicians as John Lennon, Paul Simon, Les Paul, Eric Clapton, and Carlos Santana. There was also a very cool traveling exhibition about Elvis Presley, on loan from Graceland. The rest of the museum is devoted to music from around the globe, which is divided into five geographical areas. There’s a beautiful small theater for live performances and an excellent cafe with a lovely desert-like garden to sit in.

Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, Arizona

Opened in 2010, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix was founded by Robert J. Ulrich, the former CEO of Target.  

Galleries, Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, Arizona

The museum has more than 15,000 exhibits from around the globe, divided up into  five geographical regions.

Guitar Gallery, Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, Arizona

The massive collection includes many guitars that belonged to some of the world’s most famous rock musicians. 

African instruments at the Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, Arizona

MIM has a fabulous selection of instruments from Africa and other parts of the globe.

Theater in the Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, Arizona

There’s a beautiful 300-seat concert hall for live performances.