Phoenix Art Museum Review – Inside, Outside, an All-Around Work of Art


PAM Exterior

One side of the Phoenix Art Museum

The Phoenix Art Museum is one magnificent, sprawling home for exquisite visual arts. Popular exhibitions featuring artists such as Rembrandt, Norman
Rockwell, Annie Leibowitz and Monet are shown along side the Museum’s outstanding collection of more than 18,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design.

PAM Contemporary Gallery

Front Entrance of Phoenix Art Museum

Opened in 1959, the Phoenix Art Museum, like the Valley Metro Light Rail system, mirrors the growth of Phoenix from a small desert town to the sixth largest city in the United States. Now, the classically progressive look of its 203,000-square-foot building is a work of art in itself.

Sculpture Garden

Reflecting Pool

Designed by New York architects Tod Williams/Billie Tsien & Associates in the mid-1990s and expanded by them in 2006, it integrates art and architecture with the southwestern landscape and provides sweeping interior spaces. Like any work of art, it changes when you look at it from different perspectives.


Patrons in Galleries

Dorrance Sculpture Garden

We arrived in time to catch the Masterpiece Tour. An hour long, it’s a great way see the best of the best. And an unexpected opportunity to compare Chicago and Phoenix again.

Museum Lobby

We were surprised to learn that Anish Kapoor, the creator of “Cloudgate,” aka “The Bean” in Chicago’s Millennium Park created another bean-like work, “Upside Down, Inside Out.”  Yes, you guessed it! When you look at your reflection on the the shiny black surface, you'll be upside down. It’s impossible to photograph the upside down effect of the work (believe me, we tried).

Anish Kapoor,

Chicagoans--and anyone who has seen its silvery sibling--can see how familiar it looks.

Anish Kapoor,

Graceful and gorgeous, Jennifer Steinkamp’s “Dervish” is an undulating 14-foot animated maple tree—it’s movement mimics whirling dervishes—digitally projected on the wall. I found the motion nearly hypnotic and very relaxing.  Aren't dervishes meditating when they whirl?


In the course of 9 minutes, it travels through all four seasons.


How soon spring dissolves into autumn!

At first glance James Casebere’s photo, " Nevisian Underground #1,"  below, certainly looks like a painting and is somewhat soothing. But, given a little time, this shot of an eerie flooded space without people can be disturbing.  Some say this is reminiscent of 9/11 or Katrina because of the emptiness and lack of control. But like every work of art, it awaits your interpretation.  What does it look like to you? 

Nevisian Underground #1

In sharp contrast, this Helen Frankenthaler painting, “Lush Spring,” is ripe with fresh color and fertility.

Helen Frankenthaler, Lush Spring

What a fitting final image for a spring break story!

Don't miss these Current Exhibitions:

Medievalism: Fashion's Romance with the Middle Ages
Ellman Fashion Design Gallery and Lewis Gallery
February 21 – July 5, 2009

In Contemporary Rhythm: The Art of Ernest L. Blumenschein
Steele Gallery
March 15 - June 14, 2009

Upcoming Exhibitions
Charting The Canyon: Photographs by Klett & Wolfe
Norton Photography Gallery
March 21 – July 12, 2009

Phantom Sightings: Art After The Chicano Movement
Steele Gallery
July - September, 2009 (Final dates TBC)

Tony Foster: Searching for a Bigger Subject
Lewis Gallery
July 11 - October 18, 2009

Cézanne and American Modernism
Steele Gallery
June 26 – September 26, 2010

Exposing Time
Norton Photography Gallery
Date to be announced.

All exhibitions are subject to change.

Until you’re able to see to the museum's stunning, varied, ingenious artwork live,  visit the Phoenix Art Museum’s on-line gallery at  It’s not virtually the same—the setting, the ambience, the interaction of the surroundings contribute a great deal—but it will give you a preview until you can come and see for yourself.

Phoenix Art Museum, at the McDowell Road & Central Avenue Light Rail station, 1625 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004, 24-hour Information: (602) 257-1222, Offices: (602) 257-1880, E-mail: i [email protected].  Free parking with barrier-free access.

All Aboard! This article is the second in our series Valley Metro Light Rail Review – Spring Break Aboard Phoenix’s Newest Mode of Transportation. Come along with us! The Heard Museum is our next stop on the Valley Metro Light Rail.  Read about it in tomorrow’s Splash.

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