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Southwestern Chic in Phoenix


Elizabeth Hey
Published May 01, 2014

Taliesin West

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright left a lasting legacy in Scottsdale at Taliesin West, his winter residence. The meandering, one-story home fits snugly into the landscape at the base of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Stunning at every turn, the home showcases Wright’s dedication to creating buildings in sync with the environment.

Wright visited Arizona in 1927 when asked to consult on the design for the Arizona Biltmore. He felt drawn to the area and, in 1937, bought land to build Taliesin West. Typical of Wright’s designs, each nook and cranny of the home has a story and a reason for being. It also served as his architectural laboratory from 1937 until his death in 1959.

Tours range from one to three hours and cover different facets of the architecture and Wright’s career. Groups will marvel at his trendsetting innovation and style.

“The popular Insights Tour offers access to the Wrights’ private spaces as well as the exterior,” said Megan Neighbor, communications manager at the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The large bookstore focuses on the arts and is worth browsing.”


Arizona Capitol Museum

Today, the state’s original Capitol building contains the Arizona Capitol Museum. In the late 1960s, the House and Senate outgrew the copper-domed structure, which was completed in 1901, and moved into chambers next door.

Snapshots of Arizona history are sprinkled throughout the museum’s four levels. The mosaic seal on the rotunda floor was created in Ohio relying solely on a written description and assembled on-site much like a jigsaw puzzle. In the restored first governor’s office, a wax figure of seven-term Governor George W.P. Hunt sits at his desk. On the third floor, visitors can step inside the original House chamber, which re-creates the scene of the 1910 Arizona constitutional convention.

“Much of the first floor exhibits are dedicated to World War II, and two rooms are dedicated to the USS Arizona,” said coordinator and museum photographer Taylor Arrazola. “We have the entire silver service on display from the USS Arizona. It was sent out to be cleaned while the ship was in Pearl Harbor and wasn’t aboard during the attack.”


Heard Museum

Located in downtown Phoenix, the Heard Museum features the art, culture and history of the American Indians, with an emphasis on Southwest tribes. Displays include intricately beaded clothing, textiles and jewelry. Touch screens feature current artists talking about specific pieces on display.

“Our docents are trained a bit differently in that we give them the latitude to offer their own perspective and how they experience the art,” said communications manager Mark Scarp. “The same 22 tribes have lived in Arizona for at least 500 years. We want to project the past, present and future so that groups come away with a fresh perspective on the Native culture.”

The permanent collection includes more than 40,000 works of art and cultural artifacts and allows for numerous special exhibits. “Chocolate, Chili & Cochineal: Changing Taste Around the World” features historic edibles from the Americas. “Beautiful Games: American Indian Sport and Art” presents Native peoples’ involvement with sports through paintings, photography, film and memorabilia.


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