Old Town Scottsdale is filled with plenty of cliché Western shops that typically draw in the snowbirds, but amongst the tourist traps is a hidden gem that locals need to discover for themselves. The latest addition to the city, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, is a must see for Arizonans of all ages.
Immediately after walking through the towering cedar door entrance into the lobby of the museum, you are immersed in the modern-Western inspired architecture and openness of the building itself. I was in awe the first time I visited the museum. It felt like the building was built to showcase the art, not just display it like a typical museum.
The 43,000-square-foot, two-story building has a lot to offer through its exhibits. Modern, interactive technology kiosks are scattered throughout the galleries for visitors to further explore the world of the West with an exciting fresh twist. When visiting, you journey through a timeline of Western exploration. From the journey of Lewis and Clark, to Native American history and even to today’s cowboy culture, the museum covers it all.
One of my favorite and most unique portions of the museum was the Christine and Ted Mollring Sculpture Courtyard. This outdoor gallery was a refreshing space where we could wander amongst the life-sized sculptures under the Arizona sun. I was lucky enough to visit the museum on a day when a local musician sang classic western songs to us in the courtyard while we roamed.
Another one of my favorite features was the A.P. Hays Sprit of the West Collection. This exhibit had what seemed like hundreds of cowboy essentials on display. Walls of spurs, guns, holsters, and rope lined the exhibit, with featured displays including a corral of saddles, a replica of an old western town and an optical illusion painting installment. It was almost like I fell right into a classic cowboy western movie when I saw this exhibit because everything essential to cowboy life was right in front of me. This exhibit had it all.
But we can’t forget about Ole Smow, the resident bison who welcomes visitors to the gift shop. (Don’t worry! He’s stuffed!)
My experience at Scottsdale’s Museum of the West was not only informative, but also entertaining. I was expecting white walls lined with paintings of cowboys roping cattle before my arrival, but to my surprise the museum exceeded my expectations. Even if you think that art museums aren’t your thing, I strongly feel that this museum has something for everyone.