Scottsdale Jewel In The Sand Part I - Culture

The first on our miniseries of articles about Scottsdale, and its' allure to visitors, in the form of arts, culture, entertainment, and beauty.
Scottsdale Museum of The West

Jewel in the Sand, Part I – Culture

Despite the fact that Arizona is considered “flyover country”, it’s a stereotype that became outdated a long time ago.

It’s particularly evident in case of Scottsdale, which used to be nothing more but desert, with only semi-permanent inhabitants being Native American tribes. Following its’ establishment as an agrarian outpost and explosive growth (which was happening throughout the state) in the beginning to middle of the XXth century, Scottsdale now enjoys the status of the most affluent community in the state with average yearly income being 70 to 80 thousand dollars.

As with every high income community, a thriving entertainment scene soon followed, with well over 100 art galleries and museums following the hundreds of bars and clubs that sprung up to serve the community’s needs.

The city itself has become a major arts market, on par with New York and Santa Fe, which is reflected by a major annual arts market hosted for the 45th year during early March in the Scottsdale Centre for The Performing Arts, located at 7380 E 2nd St.



Named among the best art gatherings by dedicated journals, it features dozens of artists from all over United States and Canada showcasing their works in a variety of mediums. From photos to ceramics to painting to jewelry, they have it all. But it won’t be fair to say that this is strictly an art gathering. Those who attend have a chance to enjoy local cuisine as well as a range of other activities.

Overall, Scottsdale has over 175 art galleries and museums but it won’t wise to list them all even though they all would be interesting to art lovers, one way or another. As much as we won’t to showcase our city in all its splendor, this particular job we would like to leave to dedicated listings. However, we would like to direct your attention to some we particularly liked (but please don’t judge us, we all have our differences in taste!)

Considering that Arizona is the home to the biggest Native American population in the nation, we’d like to direct your attention to the famed Heard Museum, which, while technically it is situated in Phoenix, is just a short drive away from Scottsdale, situated on 2301 N Central Ave, Phoenix.


Heard Museum by Wikipedia user Yassie, licensed under CC-BY 3.0

Heard Museum Scottsdale

The museum was founded in 1929 with an explicit purpose of educating people about the art and cultural heritage of the Native peoples of the US, in particular, Navajo Nation, which has a number of branches across Arizona.The Heard Museum used to operate a branch in Northern Scottsdale but first of all, it was closed in 2014 and second – it’s worth the trip anyway.

What began as a small and humble museum, grew into a massive complex with a matching collection, classrooms and performing spaces. Heard Museum also annually hosts festivals that celebrate Hispanic and Southwestern Indian Nations heritage and boasts approximately 250000 visitors a year.

For those, more in tune with the modern art, we suggest to visit Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which is conveniently placed in the old part of town at  7374 E. 2nd St.

The museum is a relatively new addition to the cohort of cultural centers of the city but quickly became the nexus for all established and promising artist and performers all over the US. Through connections with organizations such as The Warhol Foundation, SMoCA was able to expand and properly establish itself and now prides itself on having five permanent exhibitions, educational and performing spaces and a full-blown sculpture garden.  

Finally, last but not least, for all the folks who enjoy the atmosphere of the Old West, you can visit one of the most recent additions to what is known as an “Arts District” of Scottsdale, a museum called Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, museum that was opened in January of 2015 and is situated at 3830 N Marshall Way.

Scottsdale Museum of The West

SMOW/Bill Timmerman

Built on the premises of the former transit railway station, it tells a story of pioneers who settled the West, the rocky relations between the native tribes and settlers (which is quite an understatement) and all the art and creativity that came from overcoming adversity by these brave men and women.

Once a barren wasteland, Scottsdale is now rightfully considered an oasis of arts and entertainment of the Western United States, where one will always find an activity to entertain one’s mind and soul. For more information about museums and cultural venues of Scottsdale, please visit, a website dedicated to promoting the city.

Keep an eye on our blog for Part II – Nightlife, Coming Soon!

Useful links: – Scottsdale Arts Festival – Western Spirit: Scottsdale Musum of the West – Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. – Scottsdale Centry for the Performing Arts