The visual arts are, pardon the pun, highly visible in Tempe. You’ll find the visual arts at every turn from prehistoric drawings on “A” Mountain 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 Map(ing) through May 30, 2017.
The Western POP exhibition, on display at the Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts through May 6, 2016, pays tribute to and explores Hollywood’s golden age of Western films.
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: Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
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 3-D 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 3-D shows are presented on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Check the website for details.
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 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.
The museum explores Tempe history through collections, research services, exhibits, and programs that captivate and connect with audiences throughout the community and beyond. Open Tues. – Sat., 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sun., 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission is free.
National Firefighting Hall of Heroes. Over 90 classic pieces of firefighting apparatus on display, dating from 1725 to 1960. Fire safety exhibits, games and activities for kids. Open Mon. – Sat., 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sun., noon – 4 p.m.
Plan your next vacation with the Tempe Visitor's Guide.