Scottsdale's Museum of the West
The Grand Canyon State has a deep history of art, culture, and knowledge worth learning about. A museum is an excellent place for Arizona visitors and locals to engage in robust opportunities to learn about the West and the 48th state.
The best place to view this history is at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West.Located in Old Town Scottsdale and established in January 2015, Western Spirit is home to a 43,000-square-foot showcase of American West, Western Canada, and Mexican history. The two-story building resides on the historic grounds of the Loloma Transit Station and offers indoor and outdoor exhibits.
Western Spirit currently has 10 exhibitions and is presently featuring “Western Pop: Andy Warhol & Billy Schenck,” “Werner Segarra: Vaqueros de la Cruz del Diablo,” and “Dazzling Array: The Richard A. Gates Collection of Native American Jewelry.”
Western Pop is a culmination of 14 screen prints from Andy Warhol named Cowboys & Indians and Billy Schenck’s 29-work collection called Myth of the West. Warhol’s collection focuses on the cultural significance of Native Americans and cowboys in the American West. This project was Warhol’s last major project before he died in 1987. Western Spirit is one of the few places to view the portfolio since only 250 copies were made!
Billy Schenck’s work is a mix of oil paintings and serigraphs based on Hollywood interpretations of a “mythic Old West” and his own version of a mythic “New West.” The “New West” paintings were created in the 1980s and focused on satirical Hollywood icons, urban cowboys, and women with guns.
The Western Pop exhibit will be featured now through November 26, 2023.
Vaqueros de la Cruz del Diablo, translated to Cowboys from the Cross of the Devil by Werner Segarra, is featured now through February 25, 2024. The photographic exhibit features 57 images captured over thirty years. Some photos are of the community or places of work, while others encapsulate how their culture has been influenced by the modern world. The photographs are a record of life and how it was lived by these cowboys.
Western Spirit also has permanent exhibitions like the “Canvas of Clay: Hopi Pottery Masterworks from The Allan and Judith Cooke Collection.” This collection features 65 amazing examples of Hopi pottery. “Collecting Stories: John Coleman Bronzes from the Collection of Frankie and Howard Alper” and “The A.P. Hays Family Spirit of the West Collection” showcases more than 1,400 saddles, spurs, cowboy gear, and other Old West objects.
Alongside the fantastic artwork galleries, Western Spirit offers programs designed to explore American West history through immersive experiences. “William Matthews: Decades,” a show of the Colorado-based painter’s best watercolor work, will open on October 10, 2023, and run through April 28, 2024. His album covers, murals, and ephemera (short-term work) will be displayed as a tribute to his presence in the international art world.
Western Spirit’s galleries and artwork showcases, educational programs, and community outreach were explicitly chosen to celebrate the West and the cultural exchanges that have shaped our community and world. The museum was placed in Scottsdale to raise public awareness of its importance to the Western region. It’s in the perfect location in the center of Scottsdale’s arts and culture district.
Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is owned by the City of Scottsdale and managed and operated by Scottsdale Museum of the West, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
Feature provided by The Scottsdale Living – RipLey Simone Kennebrew.
RipLey Simone is currently a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University
Photos via Western Spirit