Arizona State Museum Main Entrance

Interactive Exhibits



Q: What kind of museum is the Arizona State Museum? 

A: The Arizona State Museum located on the University of Arizona campus is noted as one of the most historic and largest sites for collections of indigenous peoples artifacts and history located in the Southwest region, this museum was utilized as one of the universities largest domains for research donated by scholars and researchers to expand on knowledge and history of our land's past. The museum contains over 3 million objects available to the general public and offers an array of exhibits/collections, events, programs for every season. The Arizona State Museum encourages the residents of Tucson to submerge themselves in the culture of Arizona's history while continuing to implement diverse knowledge to all who visit this historical landmark.

Arizona State Museum is the oldest and largest anthropological research museum in the U.S. Southwest, with expansive collections that are exceptional resources for the study, teaching, and appreciation of the region’s 13,000-year human history ( 

The principal focus is to, “be introduced to the ancient indigenous and enduring Native cultures of the region through content-rich exhibits, dynamic docent tours, engaging programs, enriching travel tours, hands-on workshops, a research library, and an educational museum store (



The Arizona State Museum, an anthropology museum, preserves, creates, and shares knowledge about the peoples and cultures of Arizona and surrounding regions.  ( 

Origin Story:  

Edit conflict! Other version:

The Arizona State Museum (ASM), celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2018, was originally established by the Arizona Territorial Legislature as the Arizona Territorial Museum, nineteen years before Arizona became a state. The University of Arizona (UA), founded in 1885 as Arizona’s land grant university in sparsely populated Tucson, and ASM were inextricably bound from the museum’s inception in 1893. The museum was set up in UA’s one and only building at that time, “Old Main,” and was, for administrative purposes, made part of the university. The museum’s founding mission, as stated in the Territorial House Bill 42 introduced by territorial legislator (later governor) George W.P. Hunt, was for the “collection and preservation of the archaeological resources, specimens of the mineral wealth, and the flora and fauna of the Territory.” The early collections of the museum were a hodgepodge of natural history specimens and archaeological artifacts, both from the Southwest and representing the great civilizations of the Old World, including Near Eastern cuneiform tablets, Egyptian amulets, and Greek and Roman coins. When Byron Cummings became director of ASM in 1915 the mission of the museum turned exclusively to anthropology. As a professor of Greek and Latin, Cummings continued to appreciate the value of acquiring comparative collections from the Mediterranean world, as donors offered them ( 



Historical Background: 

The Arizona State Museum, ASM for  short, established in 1893 is the oldest and largest anthropological research museum in the U.S. Southwest, with expansive collections that are exceptional resources for the teaching, study, and understanding of the region’s 13,000-year human history ( 

The museum itself serves as the official archaeological repository and as the permitting authority for archaeological activity on state land. That includes 38,000 cubic feet of archaeological research materials, ASM curates millions of archaeological, ethnographic, and modern objects created by the indigenous peoples of the region. The world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of American Indian basketry composed of 35,000 specimens of woven fiber, representing nearly every major indigenous basket-making culture in North America, and dating back 7,000 years can be found here. As well as the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of Southwest Indian pottery, with 20,000 whole-vessel specimens dating back 2,000 years ( 

The photographic and archived library collections, including the conservation laboratory and preservation program are world-renowned. Scholars at ASM are leaders in their fields with research overlap across many disciplines, every year ASM hosts students and researchers from around the globe who consult the collections to expand the frontiers of knowledge in archaeology, ethnology, ethnohistory, materials science, climate science, and a variety of other related fields through classroom, laboratory, and field instruction, ASM offers a full calendar of public programs celebrating the ancient indigenous and enduring Native cultures of the region, sharing its expertise and collections with visitors of all ages through exhibits, school programs, lectures, hands-on activities, workshops, and travel tours ( 

Q: What does being a member mean? 

A: Folks enjoy free admission, discounts in the museum store, a monthly newsletter, and discounts on workshops, travel tours, and all fee-based programs  ( 

Q: What are some benefits given to members? 

A:  Free general admission to the museum (That is the biggie.) 

  • Guest passes to the museum

  • 20% one-time museum store coupon

  • 10% anytime museum store discount

  • A monthly member e-newsletter

  • Invitations to previews, openings, and special events

  • Early access to special sales

  • Priority access to learning expeditions, summer camps, and other popular programs

  • Eligibility for discounted Smithsonian Institution membership*

  • Eligibility to upgrade to Director Circles membership

  • Eligibility to join Friends of the ASM Collections

  • Eligibility for docent training

  • An acknowledgement packet

  • Personalized membership cards


Membership options:

$50 Individual: Annual benefits. Four guests passes to the museum. Eligibility for Smithsonian Institution membership.* 100% tax deductible.

$75 Family/Dual/Couple: Annual benefits. Six guest passes to the museum. Eligibility for Smithsonian Institution membership.* 100% tax deductible.

$150 Patron: Annual benefits. Eight guest passes to the museum. One Tucson Attractions Passport. Eligibility for Smithsonian Institution membership.* $60 tax deductible. Waive benefits to receive 100% tax deduction.

$250 Supporter: Annual benefits. Ten guest passes to the museum. One Tucson Attractions Passport. Smithsonian Institution membership included. $125 tax deductible. Waive benefits to receive 100% tax deduction.

$500 Curator: Annual benefits. Twelve guest passes to the museum. Two Tucson Attractions Passports. One museum publication. Smithsonian Institution membership included. $300 tax deduction. Waive benefits to receive 100% tax deduction.


Special Membership Groups include: 

$10 Student: For individuals who are university or college students enrolled in a degree-seeking program. Annual benefits. Eligibility for Smithsonian Institution membership.* 100% tax deductible.

$20 Tribal: For individuals who are enrolled in a federally recognized Native American community. Annual benefits. Eligibility for Smithsonian Institution membership.* 100% tax deductible.

$40 Associate: For individuals who are ASM volunteers; members of the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society, Southwest Mission Research Center, Center for Creative Photography, UA Museum of Art, or Osher Lifelong Learning Institute; teachers/educators; UA faculty and staff; active  U.S. military. Annual benefits. Eligibility for Smithsonian Institution membership.* 100% tax deductible.




  • $8.00 for adults (18+)

  • $6.00 for seniors (65+); UAMA and CCP members; AAHS and SMRC affiliate members; AAM and Smithsonian members; active/reserve military personnel; groups of 10 or more (valid ID or verification required)

  • Free for ASM members with valid ID; Native Americans; children 17 and under; University of Arizona Cat Card holders; Pima Community College students with valid student ID; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) card holders

  • Admission is free for those attending meetings; for those with appointments with staff; for those who wish only to study in the library or shop in the museum store




Our exhibit galleries and museum store are open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We are closed on Sundays and certain holidays

like: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (third Monday of January), Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and “Floating” holidays that fall on a Saturday or Sunday shall be observed on a Friday or a Monday.




Garage parking is available for a small fee on weekdays that is charged by the amount of hours spent in said location. The closest garages are located just one block from the museum at either Euclid Avenue and Second Street (adjacent to the Marriott University Park Hotel) or Euclid Avenue and Fourth Street. Garage parking is free on weekends, except when large, campus-wide events occur such as football and basketball home games and the Tucson Festival of Books.

The closest disabled parking spaces are just north of our north building along James E. Rogers Way (aka North Campus Drive). Contact Visitor Parking at 520-621-3710 or stop by their offices at 1117 E. 6th Street for a UA-specific disabled permit ($8/day), which must be displayed in addition to your state-issued disabled license plate or hang placard.

SunTran Bus Route #1 stops right in front of ASM. Refer to the Sun Tran web site for routes, times, and fare information:

Sun Link’s Modern Streetcar operates daily from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 am. Stop 15 at University and Tyndall is closest to ASM. Click here for a printable route map:



Our north building (the Raymond H. Thompson Building) is wheelchair accessible. All exhibits are on the first floor. There is an elevator to the library on the second floor and to the offices on the third floor. 

We have two wheelchairs to offer, free of charge for the duration of a visit, available on a first-come-first-served basis. Inquire at the admission desk.



Plan ahead as in *allow at least one hour for your visit. A comprehensive tour of the content-rich exhibits could take more than two hours* 

Photography/Videography Policy of ASM:

  • Photography and videography for individual personal use is permitted (unless otherwise noted).

  • Flash, video lights, tripods are not allowed in the galleries.

  • Commercial photography/videography is prohibited unless prior arrangements have been made through the ASM marketing office.

  • Class-related student projects must be pre-arranged through an ASM faculty member.

  • Credentialed members of the media may contact the ASM marketing office at 520-626-8381 about photography (and interviews) at public events and in the galleries.

  • Photographers are solely responsible for any violation of copyright law (Title 17, United States Code).




  • Collections/Objects: Contact Dr. Suzanne Eckert, Head of Collections, for ASM's policies and procedures about receiving/considering/accepting donations of objects or collections. 520-626-0253.

  • OR you can donate on their website any amount you choose:




Contact information:


General Information Line


Fax: 520-621-2976

Email: [email protected], ASM Director Patrick D. Lyons 

 Mailing address:

Arizona State Museum

The University of Arizona

P.O. Box 210026

Tucson, Arizona  85721-0026

 Physical Location:

Arizona State Museum

The University of Arizona

1013 E. University Boulevard

Tucson, Arizona  85721-0026 



Fun Facts: 

In addition to regular in-person exhibits, there are also online exhibits that can be browsed online through their website. 

YOU CAN ABSOLUTELY rent out the museum space for any special event! Contact: Erin Denbaars, Visitor Services Coordinator via email or telephone her at 520-621-4523 for more information.

Library and archives are located inside the museum that is open for the public to use Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It is important to note that archives are only available by appointment. 

Collection subjects include: archaeology, ethnology, ethnohistory, photography, zooarchaeology, ancient old world collections, etc. 

 Drop-in Docent-guided Tours of the Exhibits, These tours are free with museum admission and available to visitors on a first-come-first-served basis. Ask at the admission desk about docent availability. Although aimed toward adults, all ages are welcome. We ask for groups of 8 or fewer. As well as  Pre-arranged Docent-guided Tours of the Exhibits *Two week notice must be given.* 

Guided tours can be offered in German or in Spanish. 

Museum store aka Native Goods offers merchandise ranges from katsina dolls, pottery, basketry, jewelry, rugs, and masks, to books for children and adults, to an array of one-of-a-kind collectibles. Native Goods also carries baskets, stone carvings, and delicate shell necklaces by the Seri, who live along the mainland coast of the Gulf of California in northern Mexico, and basketry and sometimes musical instruments crafted by the Tarahumara from Mexico's famed and isolated Sierra Madre.

Service animals are allowed (Pets, fur babies, therapy, and emotional support animals are not allowed.)

Programs include: American Indian relations, Docent, Facility Rentals, Membership, School, Travel, Volunteer, Speakers, Student-Work opportunities  (


Last notes: 

Amongst the large collection of historical findings from the past 13,000 years, ASM holds over half a million photographs, approximately 100,00 recorded books and journal from natives and more. There is not only history on human life that has made a historical impact on the state of Arizona, but there is also 5,000 species of vertebras on display that have surrounded our region for thousands of years. 

The ASM offers an extensive amount of exhibits located in the heart of the main building such as The Pottery Project, displaying traditions of Native American pottery from the past 2,000 years and the Paths of Life: American Indians of Southwest exhibit for the purpose of informing our community of geographical life paths explored by the 10 Native American culture groups of the Northern Mexico to Northern Arizona region. Both physical and virtual exhibits are offered through this State Museum. Virtual tours of the pottery vault maybe accessed online as well as VR user friendly tours, by just the drag of a computer mouse one may have a virtual reality experience through the inside of the pottery project exhibit. (

The museum is incredibly engaged with the Arizona community through their classes, lectures and more. Culture Craft Sunday is a family friendly event hosted by ASM which offers activities such as creating baskets, making woven butterflies and watching doll carving demonstrations. The Museum also offers a four day "summer camp" run by experts where participants can expand their knowledge of zoology and archeology. These programs are interactive as well as informative with structured itinerary and hands on learning. (

The understanding of our regions past is still an ongoing mystery for the ASM and they still continue today to unravel the historical happening of Arizona through ongoing scholarly research. ASM indicates ongoing projects at the museum include research on origin, analyzing discovered bones of Arizona and more. Frequent visitors of this museum may also become an ASM member depending on which level they select. Benefits for certain memberships include free guest passes, Tucson attraction passports and museum publications. More information to membership levels may be found on their website (