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.
If you’re fond of contemporary architecture, plan a visit to the ASU Art Museum where you’ll find several intriguing exhibitions, including Architecture for Place: Glenn Murcutt. The exhibition features drawings, renderings, photographs and models by the architect known for designs that “touch the earth lightly. Architecture for Place will be on display through April 4.
The Tempe History Museum’s exhibition The Tempe Sound celebrates our city’s considerable contribution to music. On display are hundreds of music items and paraphernalia honoring groups and artists like the Gin Blossoms, Jimmy Eat World, Walt Richardson and Waylon Jennings, which have made an impact on Tempe’s music scene. The year-long event will also feature performances and lectures.
Watch for art in unexpected places, such as the Mill Avenue Post Office, Tempe Public Library, and along city 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.
Contemporary history introduces visitors to the dramatic development of the Valley. Interactive exhibits, guided tours and research library. 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.
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. Hours: Tuesday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. (May through August until 5 p.m.) Wednesday–Saturday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Additional educator hours by appointment: Mondays and before 11 a.m. Tuesday–Thursday Closed: Sunday, Monday and holidays
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.
The Innovation Gallery is located on the ASU Tempe Campus in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change building. This gallery is open to the public, prototypes of conceptual exhibits and programming by students, drawing from faculty research. It is part of the school’s Center for Archaeology and Society. Call for hours of operation.
The facility supports the Thermal Emission Imaging System experiment that was sent aboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft. The Mars facility has a visitor area with displays about Mars and a television tuned to NASA TV. Open Mon. – Fri., 9 a.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. More than 20 public artworks including Depression-era murals and contemporary sculpture can be found on the 720-acre ASU Tempe Campus and on the 300-acre West campus.
Exhibitions at the United States Post Office highlight local artists working in a variety of media and themes. Space is located in the heart of the Mill Avenue District. Special emphasis is placed on work that is fun, eye-catching and unusual. Exhibitions are visible from the street 24 hours a day.
Since 1988, Tempe has commissioned a diverse collection of more than 70 temporary and permanent pieces and new projects are always on the horizon. Tempe Public Art aspires to cultivate a unique community identity through innovative place-making and infrastructure enhancements incorporated in streetscapes and pathways, transit facilities, public buildings, parks and other public spaces.
The Ranch is a black box performance space with a flexible infrastructure for multiple types of sensing, audio and visual playback and presentation. Features include 5.1 surround audio, multiple projection surfaces and reconfigurable audience arrangements. The Ranch also is used on a daily basis for realization of research and class work.
Explore the ancient heart of Phoenix at a 1500 year old Hohokam site, with a prehistoric platform mound and ballcourt. Exhibits include replicated houses, a children’s gallery, and theater. Visit our store with authentic American Indian arts. Light rail accessible.
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.
Plan your next vacation with the Tempe Visitor's Guide.