By C. Jill Hofer
T-Town is a treasure trove of art, artifacts, and interesting items on display. Tucson’s museums provide much more than a cool respite from the daytime heat. They give visitors a close-up look at art from ancient to contemporary and offer a trip back in time and a window to the many cultures that converge to make us who we are today.
TUCSON TIME TRAVEL
The tapestry of Tucson is rich and colorful with a diverse, multi-faceted history. See how the fabric of the Old Pueblo is woven together at Tucson’s many museums inspired by the past.
IGNITE SIGN ART MUSEUM
The Ignite Sign Art Museum is described as an “out-of-control rescue mission” to preserve and restore historically significant signs of Tucson. Marvel at neon-bending demonstrations, partake in scavenger hunts and other interactive activities, or simply bask in the glow of the vintage signs of yesteryear.
THE PRESIDIO SAN AGUSTÍN MUSEUM
This recreation of the Spanish colonial fort built in 1775 later became the founding structure of the city of Tucson. Artifacts are brought to life through docent tours and re-enactments of the daily lives and traditions of Native Americans and territorial settlers.
TUCSON RODEO PARADE MUSEUM
A time capsule of Southern Arizona’s ranching and Western heritage, the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum showcases life in the 1900s through recreations of historic spaces as well as numerous railroad artifacts and more than 100 horse-drawn vehicles on display.
ARIZONA HISTORY MUSEUM
Celebrate the proud history of southern Arizona at the historic Josias-Joesler-designed Arizona History Museum. You’ll cruise through transportation history with wagons and a 1912 Studebaker car; explore treasures including Spanish colonial silver and Old West firearms; walk through a replica of an underground mine; and discover the stories and artifacts of Geronimo and Wyatt Earp.
MILES OF SMILES FOR ALL AGES
Kids of all ages in the Old Pueblo can delight in a plethora of museums purposely curated with the whole family in mind. These destinations beckon with exploration, discovery, and family fun.
CHILDREN’S MUSEUM TUCSON
Spend the day exploring this hands-on children's museum, which is home to an abundance of immersive, interactive, educational exhibits. This vibrant attraction welcomes all visitors to learn, discover, and create together.
THE MINI TIME MACHINE MUSEUM OF MINIATURES
Marvel at a dizzying array of antique and contemporary exhibitions of expertly curated miniatures collections. Demonstrations, artist receptions, storytime, and special events complement the awe and amazement which is guaranteed with every visit to this world-class Tucson treasure.
ARIZONA-SONORA DESERT MUSEUM
Explore the Sonoran Desert’s vibrant ecosystem through a wide variety of indoor and outdoor exhibits. Traverse slopes and grasslands and stroll through cat canyon, hang out in the hummingbird aviary, and more.
DIG DEEP TO NATIVE ROOTS
Many area museums are rooted in the Native American history of the Old Pueblo. Gain a greater understanding and appreciation at these spaces dedicated to the earliest beginnings of Tucson’s culture.
Just a few miles outside Tucson in the stunning Texas Canyon is the Amerind Museum, where you can explore the traditions and the contemporary lives of Native Americans and gain cross-cultural insights through Native American art, history, culture, and archaeology.
YOEMEM TEKIA FOUNDATION MUSEUM
Dedicated to the preservation of Yaqui culture, customs, history, and traditions, this museum features a gallery, gift shop, and mini café. You can also attend history nights and workshops, including traditional flower-making, embroidery, and cooking classes.
TOHONO O’ODHAM NATION CULTURAL CENTER & MUSEUM
The permanent collection of important art and artifacts at the Tohono O’odham Nation Cultural Center & Museum extends to the great outdoors with nature trails and petroglyphs, preserving culture and instilling pride through education, programs and outreach.
SALUTE THE MILITARY
Tucson is home to veterans from all branches of the armed services and area museums offer outstanding opportunities learn more about Tucson’s military history.
PIMA AIR & SPACE MUSEUM
The Pima Air & Space Museum is the 80-acre home to thousands of artifacts and more than 400 historic aircrafts, viewable outside and within indoor exhibit hangers. Three hangers are specifically dedicated to WWII. Let your imagination take flight viewing examples from a Wright Flyer to a 787 Dreamliner.
390TH MEMORIAL MUSEUM
The 390th Memorial Museum offers a compelling look at WWII history as told through the stories of the 390th Bomb Group personnel. Learn about these heroes and the 673 airmen who sacrificed their lives in 1943. Admission is included in the Pima Air & Space Museum entrance fee.
HISTORY ON WHEELS
Curious Tucsonans and visitors alike ponder the questions, “Where did we come from?” and “Where are we going?” These museums offer a look some of the ways we got from there to here.
TUCSON AUTO MUSEUM
The Tucson Auto Museum shares its pristine collection of up to 75 iconic cars along with a wealth of automobilia. There’s something drool-worthy for every automobile aficionado from mid-century classics to vehicles from the movie Batman Returns.
SOUTHERN ARIZONA TRANSPORTATION MUSEUM
The historic Southern Pacific Railroad Depot is home to the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, providing educational outreach, oral history, and archival collections dedicated to Tucson rail history. Visit for a special event or just to be amazed at Engine #1673, originally built in 1900 as a steam engine.
It’s no surprise that the Old Pueblo was described as a “mini mecca for the arts” by the Wall Street Journal—some of the finest art in town is found in these museums.
DEGRAZIA GALLERY IN THE SUN MUSEUM
Established in 1950, the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun Museum celebrates the life and art of Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia. View the six permanent collections and rotating exhibitions as well as the work of up-and- coming local artists in the open-air mission with a top-notch gift shop.
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART IN TUCSON
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson was established by artists as Tucson’s only museum devoted exclusively to contemporary art. Originally a downtown firehouse, the space is bursting with innovative art and the museum maintains a full exhibition and artist-in-residence program.
TUCSON MUSEUM OF ART
The Tucson Museum of Art hosts 2,000 works of art in a blend of historic adobe and modern architecture. Two main rotating exhibitions complement the permanent collection of sculpture, textiles, paintings, pottery, and more.
THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA’S MUSEUMS
The first university in Arizona Territory has been a hub for Tucsonans to gather, learn, and connect since 1885, offering culture, entertainment, and a wealth of art for the public’s enjoyment.
UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA MUSEUM OF ART
The University of Arizona Museum of Art offers something for everyone with special events, art talks, book signings, and rotating shows on contemporary topics as well as special examples from artists of all ages.
ARIZONA STATE MUSEUM
Since 1893, Arizona State Museum has studied the region’s 13,000-year human history and the Indigenous cultures of our area. Discoveries and findings are shared and expanded through gallery tours, master classes, and travel experiences offered through the oldest and largest anthropological research facility in the US Southwest.
ALFIE NORVILLE GEM & MINERAL MUSEUM
Conveniently located in the Historic Pima County Courthouse in downtown Tucson, the Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum boasts three major galleries: Mineral Evolution, Arizona Gallery, and a Gem Gallery. The collection spans from 1892 to modern times and features many touchable specimens as well as interactive exhibits.
COIT MUSEUM OF PHARMACY & HEALTH SCIENCE
For an Rx on the history of pharmacy, the Coit Museum of Pharmacy & Health Science is just what the doctor ordered. Home to one of the world’s leading pharmacy collections, this unique museum displays pharmacy and health sciences with complimentary admission.
THE JOHN E. GREIVENKAMP MUSUEM OF OPTICS
Discover a clear view of the past through The John E. Greivenkamp Museum of Optics’ collection of antique and historical optical devices including telescopes, microscopes, lenses, and cameras from the 18th century to the present.
UNIQUE, MEANINGFUL, AND IMPACTFUL
The wealth of interesting and enlightening museums is indicative of Tucson’s diverse, creative, and insatiably curious residents and visitors. Add these interesting spaces to your must-see list.
TUCSON JEWISH MUSEUM & HOLOCAUST CENTER
Located in the first synagogue in the Arizona Territory, the Tucson Jewish Museum & Holocaust Center explores the legacy of Jewish experiences in our area. The center provides education about the Holocaust and other genocides while promoting diversity and human rights through dynamic features highlighting present-day social justice issues.
YUME JAPANESE GARDENS
The cultural center and museum at Yume Japanese Gardens leads visitors through exquisite garden paths to a gallery brimming with Japanese art. Observe traditional folk artifacts, costumes, decorative arts, and woodblock prints, as well as ceramics, textiles, metal works, and the largest Ikebana flower vessel collection in the United States.
If a society can be measured by its creativity, art, and artists, Tucson makes the grade. Explore the myriad of museums to amplify your inspiration and expand your knowledge and understanding of the many forms of art preserved and displayed in the Old Pueblo.