About The Museum 

The Arizona State Museum was founded in 1893. It is located on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson, Arizona. Formed by the authority of the Arizona Territorial Legislature, it was originally created for  the protection of archaeological and Native American artifacts in the Southwest region of the U.S. This museum is operated and owned by the University of Arizona, and is the oldest and largest anthropological museum in the Southwest U.S. The type of artifacts included pottery, jewelry, baskets, textiles and clothing from the past. The museum holds many Ethnological items, which are items that are not acquired by excavation. This means that these items have been further donated by the Native American Tribes or acquired from other individuals. The Arizona State Museum also has an extensive collection of photos. The museum has over 350,000 prints, negatives, and transparencies. The Arizona State Museum is a place that is sacred for research, learning, and understanding history. There are a few key factors in which make this museum special compared to others: 

  • Being the largest anthropological museum, standing at 38,00 cubic feet 

  • The museum holds artifacts that date back as far as 13,000 years 

  • Contains the worlds largest Native American basketry (35,000 specimen)  and pottery collection (24,000 specimen) 

  • They have one of the largest conservation lab's and preservation programs that hold work-renowned titles

  • They hold regular program's and instruction for people of all ages where they can learn about the history of the museum and the artifacts inside of it. 

Hours and Location of the Museum

Currently, this museum is closed due to the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic. Normally, this historic spot is open to the public. The Arizona State Museum is also open to tours for students. Often university professors will take their classrooms on field trips and laboratory days in the museum. As well as tours, the Arizona State Museum offers a calendar full of events that promote learning about ancient indigiounous people and learning about native cultures of the region. Examples of these types of events are exhibits, school programs, lectures, hands on activities, workshops and travel tours. When regular hours resume when the museum opens back up, they are open from Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m to 5:00 p.m. Students, Children under 17, Native Americans, and Smithsonian/ASM members can go in for free, but people aged 18+ can get in for $8, and seniors can get in for $6. 

Located on the campus, you can find the ASM located right on the campus of the U of A. In order to get there, you can look up the formal address of the museum, which is 1013 E. University Blvd. If you are walking on campus, you are able to locate the building inside the Main Gate at Park Ave and University Blvd in Tucson, Arizona.

ASM Research and Preservation

The Arizona State Museum has close ties to the students at the University of Arizona. Many of the archaeology, anthropology, design and art students use the libraries provided by this museum often. The Office of Ethnohistorical Research conducts research on the people of the southwest United States and northern Mexico. This library holds over 8,000 sources of information ranging from indexes to major archival collections, maps, guides to paleontology. The  Office of Ethnohistorical Research also includes Documentary Relations of the Southwest which is an online index with over 17,000 documents. All of the documents from the Documentary Relations of the Southwest are generated from the Spanish Colonial period. These documents are really important because they hold a lot of history about the relationship between the Native Americans, Spanish Colonials, and catholic missionaries related to each other. The Point of Pines Pottery Research is another one of ASM's most renowned research project. developed in the 1940's and 50's, the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation helped the museum recover one of the largest and unique pottery collection. This research, comprised of professionals, grad students, and Native Americans helps people understand Native American migration, art and history, and it is still a work in progress. The museums connection with native tribes helps preserve and understand the native communities that are so prominent in the Southwest region of the U.S. 


Museum Director, Patrick  Lyons, examining Point of Pines Pueblo pottery

In the Arizona State Museum there is also a section about Zooarchaeology. Zooarchaeology is the study of non-human animal remains that specifically relate to the identification of animal species. Zooarachelogist are interested in the relations between animals and humans. They study things like human diet, food procurement, domestic animals, economics and trade, use of animals in rituals and more. Zooarachelogist study the genetic and physical changes of animals as a result of being domesticated. In order to identify the remains of animals from archaeologist sites, Zooarachelogist use skeletal reference collections. The name of the Zooarchaeology section in the Arizona State Museum is the Stanley J Olsen Laboratory of  Zooarchaeology. The Olsen Lab houses two vertebrate collections with a total of 4,000 vertebrate specimens of over 600 different species including fish, bird, reptile, mammal etc. The Western Archaeological and Conservation Center collection is on a long term loan from the National Park Services. This collection specialized in species that are native to the southwest climate and environment. The Olsen laboratory has a small collection of references that are also available for researchers to use. The Olsen laboratory is open to students, staff and the public. The collection has been used for years in the past as reference to many courses at the University of Arizona.

Preserving artifacts is key for what makes this museum so special. The ASM Preservation Division, run by Nancy Odegaard gives professionals, grad students, and scholars an opportunity to experience a real-world and hands-on experience to analyze and preserve historical artifacts that are given to the Arizona State Museum. The museums conservation lab, which was first established in the 70's. Nancy Odegaard has completely transformed the art of conserving at the ASM by combining chemistry, engineering, anthropological principles and scientific methods to conserve objects like pottery, clothing, photographs and art. The conservation lab researches artifacts, works on mitigating pesticides/residue on museum objects, upkeep on objects already obtained by the museum, and taking protocols for the care of human remains in academic institutions. The preservation labs offer opportunities to the public and students as well. The museum holds workshops for students and volunteers who want to learn more and have a hands-on experience to artifact preservation. 

Nancy Odegaard, left, helping grad students preserve a ceramic vessel in the conservation lab 

Museum Exhibits 

 Wrapped in Color: Legacies of the Mexican Sarape

This is one of the museums newest exhibits, featuring the history behind Mexican Sarape's, which are sacred versatile Mexican textiles. Worn by the poorer folk, sarape's act as a shawl and/or blanket for protection from all sorts of different weather conditions like sun exposure and the extreme cold. The serape signifies Mexican history, tradition and textile techniques, as each sarape is created uniquely and individually different. This specific ASM exhibit collaborated with Zapotec textile artist Porfirio Gutiérrez to show the history and role the sarape plays today in indigenous Mexican and Spanish history. In this exhibit, people will be able to see what goes into the process of making them; from weaving techniques to color dyes taken from natural resources. People will see pictures, videos, illustrations and a number of intricate sarapes first hand when visiting this exhibit in the Arizona State Museum. 


Saving an American Treasure: An Unparalleled Collection of Anthropological Photographs

ASM is notorious for its large and extensive collection of anthropological photographic materials. Taking the title as an American treasure, this collection of photographs is sacred to a number of different groups; students, scholars, and especially indigenous people in the U.S. This exhibit is comprised of over half a million prints, negatives, transparencies and movie films that are centered around U.S Southwest and Northwest Mexico life, culture and tradition. Some of these anthropological photographs date as far back as 13,000 years. In this collection, we see documentation of advancements, both humanly and technological as well as native inhabitants and the evidence they left behind for us to see. When COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, people are able to schedule special access to the collection by appointment and/or by contacting photo collections manager Janelle Weakly. 

The Pottery Project

The ASM is home to one of the most renowned pottery collections in the world, holding over 24,000 different vessels and 500 choice specimens. Collected from a number of different Native American and Indigenous sources, this exhibit showcases not only the pottery itself, but the traditions that go into making them, the stories behind the art on them and the people who make them. The exhibit itself features interactive displays, interviews with pottery makers and archeologists and even hands-on experiences for kids. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the museum offers a virtual reality tour and an in-depth YouTube video overview of the The Pottery Project, which allows users to have the in-person museum exhibit experience, minus actually being in the museum. 


Due to COVID-19 complications, the museum has not been able to have the public visit in-person. To combat this issue, the museum with come up with online exhibits that people can access through their website. On this page, you are able to virtually examine the museums exhibits, photographs, and artifacts. You can see exhibits like their pottery and woven basket collections, native clothing and weapons, and their extensive photography collection. On this page, they have also provided a place where teachers and students can access resources and learn about the museum, which is currently replacing the field trips that would happen before COVID-19. Finally, they have included an on-demand feature on this part of the website, where people can take masterclasses, join visual tours/conversations and access over 70 different videos pertaining to the museum and the artifacts that inhibit it. 

This YouTube video is just one of many Behind-the-Scene online tours that the ASM has provided on its website, which talks about the basketry collection at the museum 

ASM Social Media 

The Arizona State Museum is present on social media as well. They have a facebook, twitter, youtube and instagram account linked to the museum. The username for their Instagram account is @arizonastatemuseum. This account shares with it’s five thousand followers tons of information on the museum, what it has to offer, times and prices of exhibits, updates and more. Right now, the  instagram is trying hard at promoting virtual tours and their zoom talk series. At the moment, they are working on doing a zoom lecture titled "Biographies of Land and Water: a three part series", where ethnological professors/professionals speak on the history of the land and water in the southwest region of the U.S. Users can see upcoming zoom lectures and events by pressing the 'Events' tab at the top of the website page. 

Director of the Museum 

Current ASM Director, Patrick D Lyons

The museum has had seven different directors since its founding. The current director is Patrick D Lyons. He has been the director of the museum since 2013. Normally this museum has tons of visitors each month. The museum is accessible to people with disabilities and service animals. The museum is free for any current University of Arizona student with a catcard. They have docents constantly waiting to give museum tours daily. The average ticket price is 10 dollars. Although there are many discounts available. Senior citizens get a discount of 2 dollars less than the average price with a valid ID. The ticket price is 2 dollars for a member of the Arizona State Museum or a citizen of Native nations. 




https://statemuseum.arizona.edu/visit/guided-tours https://www.facebook.com/ArizonaStateMuseum/ Twitter