10 Must-Visit Museums & Galleries In Mesa, Arizona

Photo of Lucy Freeland
11 January 2017

The third biggest town in Arizona, Mesa has become a cultural hotspot. From child-friendly exhibition spaces to local institutions, these are ten must-visit museums and galleries in Mesa.

Mesa Contemporary Arts Gallery

Art Gallery
Map View
Mesa Arts Center, Mesa
Mesa Arts Center, Mesa | © Cygnusloop99/WikiCommons
The jewel in the crown of the Mesa Arts Center, the Mesa Contemporary Arts Gallery exhibits cutting-edge works of contemporary art. In the spacious surroundings, highlighted by floods of natural light, sit works such as the small metal sculptures of Marilyn da Silva and the three-dimensional, translucent figures of Sara Rockinger’s haunting installations. Befitting a collection of contemporary art – tending towards the highly symbolic in its representation of the confusion of modern life – the Mesa Contemporary Arts Gallery promotes cross-disciplinary art forms.

I.D.E.A. Museum

The I.D.E.A Museum merges design in art with science and technology. Formerly the Arizona Museum for Youth, I.D.E.A aims to foster enthusiasm for learning. There are three main exhibition spaces that focus on the boundless possibilities of imagination and creativity, experimenting with media to demonstrate the extent to which visual dialogue and the science of language have been adapted to better effect in the recent decades. There is also a charming outdoor atrium in which to enjoy a nutritious lunch purchased at the Snackery, after a strenuous mornings imaginative stimulation. With works such as those created by the innovative Boris Bally – manipulating non-precious, everyday material to create striking, socially-aware exhibitions – to the linguistically preoccupied artistry of Xu Bing, the I.D.E.A Museum promises something for everyone.

Image courtesy of the IDEA Musuem

William Barnhart Studio

The impressive and predominantly recycled glass and metal exterior of William Barnhart’s Studio is a formidable entrance to his collection of haunting post-impressionist paintings and modernist sculptures. Streams of natural light fall through seven skylights and north facing windows, accenting the paintings and leading out onto the xeriscaped sculpture garden and rock climbing wall. Tours of the studio are available by appointment and are not to be missed – the strenuous efforts of Barnhart himself in the construction of this gallery masterpiece infuse the space with significance.

506 N Center St, Mesa, AZ, USA, +1 480-844-4004

Permanent Sculpture Collection

Breaking away from the traditionally sought boundaries of indoor galleries, Downtown Mesa becomes a piece of artistry in itself with the Permanent Sculpture Collection scattered across the town, comprising of 38 works of art. Visitors to the city can enjoy a free self-guided tour of the sculptures at any time of day, readjusting the impact and resonance of the imposing artworks according to the changing daylight. From the tongue in cheek ‘Humpty Dumpty’ of Kimber Fiebiger to the evocative ‘Climb as High as your Dreams’ by Chris Navarro, the sculptures draw on the tensions between the permanence and transitory nature of life, defining the city in their state of constancy against a rapidly changing urban environment.

Throughout the City but centred around E Main St, Mesa, AZ, USA

Kevin Mccain Studios

A devotee of the plein air style, Kevin Mccain oscillates between illustrating children’s stories and creating breath-taking desert landscapes to be displayed in galleries across the country. Mccain welcomes visitors to his studio to appreciate the stunning paintings of the American Western landscape and to partake in workshops and classes, opening up the realm of visual-art as a creative possibility for everyone. By entering Mccain’s studios, the visitor receives an interactive experience of the creative process and an intimate glimpse of his carefully detailed and sumptuously coloured canvases.

3331 E Hopi Ave, Mesa, AZ, USA +1 480-309-0039

Art Intersection

The Art Intersection of Mesa promotes an educational environment where individuals may learn and grow into creative artists. Focusing on the integration of photography into related art-forms such as painting and sculpture, the Intersection aims to harvest creative energy and convert it into a force for community benefit – increasing the cultural plane of Arizona. In terms of artistic space, the Intersection is comprised of three galleries for display of international and local modernist and postmodernist artistry, alongside dark rooms and miscellaneous equipment necessary for the production of your own artistry. Centred on the championing of Arizona-born artists, the Art Intersection is a suggestion of an upcoming innovative change to the manner in which contemporary art is exhibited.

207 North Gilbert Road, Suite 201, Gilbert, AZ, USA, +1 480-361-1118

Art intersection
Image courtesy of Art Intersection

Rose Garden at Mesa Community College

Designed by the landscape architect LeRoy Brady, the Rose Garden at Mesa Community College is an open air gallery exhibiting nature. In the middle of the desert, 8000 rose bushes bloom in sculpted paths and winding trails, with terrace areas in the East and West gardens for quiet contemplation. Frequently, painters choose to exhibit their canvases on these beautiful terraces amidst the quiet serenity of the miraculous blooms, creating a sensory overhaul to immerse oneself in culture.

1833 W. Southern Ave. Mesa, AZ, USA, +1 480-461-7022

Arizona Temple Visitor’s Theatre

Whatever your religious persuasion, the Arizona Temple visitors center is an impressive feat of architecture. Take a stroll in the meticulously cultivated gardens or explore the exotic cactus garden before embarking on a free tour of the center itself. The tour leads you through interactive displays and films as well as exhibiting the beautiful Christus statue and various rotating exhibitions.

525 East Main Street, Mesa, AZ, USA, +1 480-964-7164

Arizona Museum of Natural History

Map View
Arizona Museum of Natural History, Mesa
Arizona Museum of Natural History, Mesa | © K Neenan Photography/WikiCommons
Although ostensibly centred on the wonders of the past, the Arizona Museum of Natural History is also a large and unexpected exhibitor of modern artistry. The museum features a number of murals by local artists combining art aesthetics with science and education, as well as often highly coloured sculptures of prehistoric creatures and is filled with natural objects such as fossils and meteorites that have provided inspiration for artists throughout time. As such, the Arizona Museum of Natural History has a lot to offer any contemporary art enthusiast.

MAC Artists Cooperative Gallery

Art Gallery, Store
Map View
An army of 60 Arizona artists collaborated to create the Cooperative Gallery. Part exhibition and part store, there is always an artist on hand to answer questions about the intricacies and features of the various paintings, photography, pottery and glass work – with the added bonus of being able to purchase your favourites.

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