Arizona has an intriguing past, and the Phoenix area is a significant piece of the Southwest’s puzzle. Many local attractions highlight the desert city’s culture, but if you want a mind-blowing history lesson, the Pueblo Grande Museum is the place to visit. Located near downtown Phoenix just 30 minutes from our hotel, the museum and adjacent archaeological park showcase the fascinating lifestyle of the Hohokam Indian tribe.
Doorways to Another World
This museum and park were constructed on the site of the Hohokam ruins, which really gives a sense of authenticity to the exhibits and displays. In the three museum galleries, you’ll find artifacts, artwork, historic documents and other objects that bring the Hohokam existence to life. Huge display cases lining the walls are filled with countless pieces that reveal the architectural and agricultural processes performed by the tribe.
Genuine Prehistoric Replicas
The exhibits outside are just as compelling. As you stroll the marked trail, you’ll come across arena-style ballcourts, earth-and-stone platform mounds and a collection of pithouses, which were essentially entertainment centers. The outdoor site also features an adobe compound complete with replicas of the tribe’s small, segmented homes. There are beautiful desert plants and agricultural-based exhibits throughout the property as well.
Dig It! Explore Archaeology! is the museum’s children’s exhibit. This hands-on area allows visitors to get dirty and dig in just like the professionals. Curious little ones can build tiny versions of Hohokam villages while exploring the different methods archaeologists use to uncover the past. Kids under age 6 get in to the museum for free, and tickets for older children cost just $3. Adult admission is $6, so it really is worth bringing the whole family.
Each month brings something new at Pueblo Grande. In September, the museum will host several educational events, including a revealing, behind-the-scenes tour. Taking place September 15, the tour will include glimpses into some secret archives, a private lab and little-known facts about the collections. Another intimate tour is scheduled for September 24. Hosted by Smithsonian Magazine, this free event will be fun for the entire family.
Countless Visual Treasures
The greatest aspect of the museum is the overall aesthetic. The earthy colors, natural textures and interesting shapes of the outdoor structures, pottery, tools and other artifacts are true visual treats. 10Best, the well-respected travel guide, calls the museum informative and fun, and it mentions the deeper understanding of the culture that visitors can gain. This all begins with the sights, which will instantly capture your attention.
The living history displayed at the Pueblo Grande Museum Archaeological Park is engaging and enlightening. It’s easy to imagine the stories of the Hohokam just by observing the landscape, photography and changing exhibits. Whether you spend your time there enjoying a scavenger hunt with your children, investigating the ruins or perusing the photomurals, you’ll leave with a greater appreciation for the mysterious tribe and its impact on modern Southwestern life.
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