The visual arts are, pardon the pun, highly visible in Tempe. You’ll find the visual arts at every turn from prehistoric drawings left by Tempe’s earliest dwellers to the contemporary art by major national and international artists at the ASU Art Museum and Ceramics Research Center & Brickyard Gallery
You can spend hours browsing the ASU Art Museum known for its innovative and thought provoking programs. Rotating exhibitions showcase contemporary art, new media, ceramics and other crafts, prints and sculpture. Current exhibitions include: BLOW UP: New Acquisitions at the ASU Art Museum, Crafting the Collection and The Brandywine Workshop Collection.
Watch for art in unexpected places, such as the Mill Avenue Post Office, Tempe Public Library, and along Tempe’s streets. Public art is sprinkled throughout the city, Tempe Town Lake, light rail and bus stops, Arizona State University and other locations waiting to be discovered by unsuspecting passersby.
Arizona State University is home to “Air Apparent”, one of artist James Turrell’s Skyspaces. The ASU Skyspace is located near the intersection of Rural and Terrace Roads, just northeast of the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 4 (ISTB4), on the university’s Tempe campus. The public can easily access this space, designed as an artistic interpretation of Native American Hohokam shade ramadas and pit houses. It is especially dramatic at sunrise and sunset. Open 24/7.
Cited in “Art in America” as “the single most impressive venue for contemporary art in Arizona,” the ASU Art Museum has a wide range of art in their exhibitions. They also have the largest collection of art from Cuba in the U.S. and their print collection, spans from the 14th-century to contemporary works.
The ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center & Brickyard Gallery is located at the Brickyard on Mill, Seventh St. and Mill Ave. in Downtown Tempe. The Ceramics Research Center has been a national and international destination point for the hands-on study and enjoyment of ceramics since its opening in March 2002. The center houses and displays the ASU Art Museum’s extensive ceramic collection of close to 4,000 objects and presents seasonally rotating exhibitions by a variety of contemporary artists. Hours: Tuesday–Saturday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; open late on Thursdays until 8 p.m. Closed Sundays, Mondays and university holidays.
The Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV (ISTB 4), on the ASU Tempe Campus, includes the Gallery of Scientific Exploration, outfitted with kiosk-style interactive exhibits and large-format, high-definition monitors that display video from Earth-observing satellites and robotic probes of other worlds. This first floor gallery invites visitors to explore earth and space sciences through digital media, public lectures, visible laboratories, and interactive displays. The Marston Exploration Theater is a venue for high-definition documentary movies with earth and space science themes and 3-D planetarium-style shows (although on a flat screen). The Gallery of Scientific Exploration also features the meteorite display on the second floor, drawn from the extensive collection of ASU’s Center for Meteorite Studies. Open 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon.-Fri.; Marston Exploration Theater 3-D shows are presented on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Check the website for details.
The Lunar Exploration Museum, located on the ASU Tempe Campus, includes the LROC Visitor Gallery where visitors can discover the excitement of exploration, learn about America’s incredible space program, watch dedicated scientists charting the amazing lunar frontier, explore the Moon, and see a real Moon rock! The Lunar Exploration Museum is located on Arizona State University Tempe Campus in the Interdisciplinary A-Wing. Unguided interpretative exhibits are open to the general public 9:30 am—4:30 pm Monday – Friday (excluding holidays). Guided tours can be arranged in advance.
The Mars Space Flight Facility is where scientists and researchers are exploring the geology and mineralogy of the Red Planet. ASU-designed instruments being controlled from the building are carried on NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter and Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. A full-size model of Opportunity is on display in the lobby, which also includes a direct feed of the latest images from the Mars Odyssey orbiter, as well as a visitor area with displays about the Red Planet. Open Mon-Fri 9a.m. – 5 p.m.
Named one of the nation’s 10 best by Public Art Review, public art at ASU reflects the rich historical traditions of ASU and Arizona, as well as contemporary artists. Nearly 20 public artworks including Depression-era murals and contemporary sculpture can be found on the 720-acre ASU Tempe Campus.
Contemporary history introduces visitors to the dramatic development of the Valley. Interactive exhibits, guided tours and a research library are present in the location. Open Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sun., noon – 4 p.m. AAA/CAA discounts available. Active military personnel receive free admission.
This space, located in the heart of Downtown Tempe, highlights local artists working in a variety of media and themes. Special emphasis is placed on work that is fun, eye catching and unusual. Artwork appears in the windows on the north and east side of the building. Exhibitions are visible from the street 24 hours a day.
Tempe Public Art has cultivated a diverse collection of more than 70 pieces of public art that are incorporated throughout the City. Installations are designed to complement the natural and built environment, and strengthen Tempe’s sense of community and place. Tempe Public Art projects are incorporated throughout the City including streetscape and pathway enhancements, neighborhoods, transit facilities, public buildings, and parks.
Plan your next vacation with the Tempe Visitor's Guide.