For more than 80 years, the Heard Museum has attracted visitors from around the globe who come to learn about the arts and cultures of the Native peoples of the Americas. The museum and its grounds are an oasis of Spanish Colonial architecture, with courtyards, water features and sculpture gardens. The Heard Museum, which has more than 130,000 square feet of galleries, classrooms and performance space is known worldwide for its exhibits, programs, and festivals celebrating Native artists. Visitors can also purchase museum-quality, authentic American Indian artworks in the museum store. Free public tours are offered daily at noon, 2 and 3 p.m., beginning at the Information Desk (private group tours are also available). Gallery talks are offered on a varying schedule.
The Heard Museum opened quietly in December 1929, several months after Dwight Heard passed away from a heart attack. During its early years, as today, the museum was a central gathering place for locals as well as school children. Lectures, workshops and talks about the exotic lands the Heards had visited brought people from all around to the Heard Museum.
The museum underwent significant growth upon Maie Heard’s passing in 1951. In 1956, the Heard Museum Auxiliary was established to assist with educational programs. Today, the Heard Museum Guild numbers nearly 500. In 1958, the Auxiliary launched two aggressive fundraising projects, a museum shop and a fair. Both activities continue with great success today, thanks to the continuing support of Guild members who work in the Shop and plan the Indian Fair & Market, which today draws nearly 20,000 people.
In 1967, a major expansion created the museum’s first collections storage area, a new auditorium and two floors of galleries, including one gallery designed to present the Goldwater Katsina Doll Collection that Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona had given to the museum in 1964.
The museum’s activities revolve around collecting, preserving and presenting art ranging from ancestral artifacts to contemporary paintings and jewelry. Exhibitions lay the foundation for learning about the cultures and experiences of the people – past and present – who create art. The Heard draws on its extensive collection as well as loaned artwork to present a mixture of long-term and changing exhibitions.
The Heard Museum actively collects American Indian fine art, and a variety of paintings, drawings, prints, photography and sculpture can be found throughout the museum’s galleries and grounds. Fine art exhibitions reflect the scope of the museum collection, which contains historic drawings more than a century old as well as contemporary canvases.
The Heard hosts the annual El Mercado de Las Artes, usually in November, with strolling mariachis and artwork by Hispanic artists from Arizona and New Mexico including santos, pottery, colcha embroidery, furniture making, painting, printmaking and silver and tinwork. The Heard also hosts the annual World Championship Hoop Dance Contest, typically held in early February. The Annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market, a juried art fair and festival, has been held yearly since 1958.
The Indian Fair and Market is held annually in March and features over 600 Native American artists, and includes a juried competition for the best artwork of the fair appropriately called Best of Show. Approved artists compete in eight classifications: Jewelry and Lapidary Work; Pottery; Paintings, Drawings, Graphics, Photography; Wooden Carvings; Sculpture; Textiles/Weavings/Clothing; Diverse Art Forms; Baskets.