Prescott Arizona is a relatively small town of about 43,000 people. However, its thirst for the arts is disproportional to its population. Arts have many forms including the performing arts, painting, sculpture, public art, galleries and museums. This article focuses on our many museums, and includes existing museums, collections on loan and future museums.
Sharlot Hall Museum
(website: http://sharlot.org/ ) was founded in 1928 by Sharlot M. Hall. The museum is within easy walking distance of the Courthouse Plaza and Whiskey Row. It is located at 415 West Gurley Street. Their phone number is (928) 445-3122. If you like history, you will love this museum. It is a museum campus with several buildings including the original Territorial Governor’s Mansion (yes, Prescott was the territorial capital on two occasions). You can spend an hour or a day here and they have a museum gift shop with fascinating merchandize. Here is a YouTube video about the museum: An Inexpensive Arizona Family Getaway – Sharlot Hall Museum
Phippen Museum of Western Art
(website: http://www.phippenartmuseum.org/ ) opened its doors to the public on October 13, 1984. It is named after George Phippen, first president of the Cowboy Artists of America. The Phippen Museum is located 7 scenic miles north of the Courthouse plaza in downtown Prescott, Arizona. From the downtown area, take Highway 89 North past the Granite Dells. The museum is on the right (4701 Highway 89 North). Their phone number is (928) 778-1385.
The Smoki Museum
(website: http://www.smokimuseum.org/ ) has an interesting and somewhat controversial origin. The “Smoki People” were area businessmen, not native American Indians – for the full story see http://www.smokimuseum.org/page16.html#smoki. The museum is located at 147 N. Arizona Ave. about seven blocks east of the Courthouse Plaza. Their phone number is (928) 445-1230
Here is a quote from their website on the origin of the museum:
“Designed to resemble an Indian pueblo, the Smoki Museum was built in 1935 of native stone and wood. It was constructed with labor provided by the Civilian Works Administration and the Smoki People. The Smoki People were a group of Prescott citizens organized in 1921 and dedicated to the perpetuation of American Indian ceremonies and dances. Until 1990, the Smoki People held annual pageants at the Yavapai County Fairgrounds, but they also became a large social organization focused on developing appreciation for Southwest Indian tribes through the Museum and their annual program. ”
The Fort Whipple Museum
is our newest museum (website: http://sharlot.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=124&Itemid=90 The museum was a joint effort between the Bob Stump VA Center and the Sharlot Hall Museum. It is located on the grounds of the VA Hospital on Hwy. 89 in Prescott. Admission is by donation. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and closed for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
The Spot – a Child’s Museum
The museum opened in 2009 in the Prescott Gateway Mall. Their website is at http://www.thespotmuseum.org/index.php/the-spot
There vision and mission statements (from their website) are:“Vision The spot…a Child’s Museum envisions children as lifelong learners who are inquisitive and knowledgeable about the world and are inspired to become stewards of a peaceful and sustainable planet. Mission The spot…a Child’s Museum provides interactive play experiences to stimulate curiosity, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving for children of all ages.”
Collection on Loan
The Prescott Area Arts Trust (PAAT) owns the Solon H. Borglum collection currently on view at the Prescott Valley Civic Center. The Solon H. Borglum exhibit features 19 sculptures and other items from the renowned sculptor’s collection. Learn more and read the self-tour guide: Solon H. Borglum Fine Arts Exhibition http://www.pvaz.net/Index.aspx?page=438
The Prescott Area Arts Trust plans to install this collection into a museum setting in Prescott in the future.
Prescott Fire Department MuseumThe Prescott Fire Department is the oldest fire department in Arizona. They celebrated their 125th anniversary in 2010. They have accumulated a wide variety of historical fire department memorabilia and plan to have a museum of their own in the future.
Prescott Frontier Days® World’s Oldest Rodeo Museum
The Prescott Frontier Days® World’s Oldest Rodeo has run continuously since 1888. It will celebrate its 125th season in 2012. Over that long history, Prescott Frontier Days® has collected a large amount of rodeo items of historic value.
About the author
Jack D. Wilson first visited Prescott in 1995 and has been a resident since 2000. He took a sojourn into politics and was the mayor of Prescott Arizona from Nov. 2007 – Nov. 2009. While he was mayor, he participated in two Mayor’s Ride to Work and had a Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. He now writes a couple of blogs and is President of the Prescott Frontier Days Community Service Foundation.