Cited as a "mini-mecca" for the arts by The Wall Street Journal,
Tucson presents a diverse range of cultural activities. Concerts,
theater, musicals, dance and opera companies can be enjoyed throughout
the city. The Temple of Music and Art, a renovated Spanish Colonial-style
building built in 1927, hosts a variety of events. 330 S. Scott
Avenue, 520/884-8210. Spring through fall performances take place
at De Meester Outdoor Performance Center in Reid Park, 22nd Street
and Country Club Road, 520/7914079. And, Centennial Hall at the
University of Arizona, University Boulevard and Park Avenue, 520/621-3341,
is another site for a wide variety of entertainment.
The Arizona Historical Society/ Tucson Museum's exhibits focus on
state history from Spanish times to the present and include costumes
and a collection of nineteenth century glass. Also there an Arizona
mining hall complete with a mine shaft and an extensive research
library. 949 E. 2nd Street (near entrance to the University of Arizona),
The society's Sosa-Carrillo Fremont House has been restored to its
1880 appearance when it was occupied by Territorial Governor Fremont.
Period furniture, memorabilia and changing displays are exhibited.
151 S. Granada (in the Tucson Convention Center complex), 622-0956.
Fort Lowell Museum is also a branch of the historical society and
is located in Old Fort Lowell Park. The museum is a reconstruction
of the commanding officer's quarters and features three rooms that
are furnished as they were in 1885. It is surrounded by the ruins
of the fort's hospital and enlisted men's barracks. 2900 N. Craycroft
A fascinating museum is the International Wildlife Museum. Housed
in a replica of a French Foreign Legion fort in Africa's Sahara
Desert, the 38,000-squarefoot museum features dioramas depicting
over 300 species of animals and birds from around the world in their
natural habitats. Wildlife films are shown and guided tours are
offered. 4800 W. Gates Pass Road (off Speedway Boulevard), 629-0100.
Children will enjoy the Tucson Children's Museum which features
hands-on activities and programs in science, health, technology
and the arts. Everything from a doctor's office with real and pretend
equipment plus a life-like anatomical model which can be taken apart
to a Newton's Cradle (in the Science and Mathematics Gallery) which
illustrates the laws of motion can be found here. Also a Natural
History Gallery and the Kidspace play area add to the fun along
with a children's theater and special programs. 200 S. 6th Avenue,
792-9985 (activity hotline - 884-7511).
Emphasizing the archaeology and ethnology of Arizona, the Arizona
State Museum's collections illustrate the cultures of the Southwest
and are considered the most comprehensive in existence. Dioramas
depict ancient and modern Indian lifestyles. University of Arizona,
Park Avenue and University Boulevard, 621-6302.
Also on the university's campus in the Geology Building is the Mineral
Museum. The exhibits emphasize the vast variety of Arizona's minerals
plus displays of fine gem stones and fossils from around the world.
North Campus Drive, 621-6024.
Pima Air Museum displays over 180 vintage aircraft representing
the nation's aviation history. A fullscale replica of the Wright
Brothers' 1903 plane plus several rare planes are featured. 6000
E. Valencia Road (10 miles southeast of Tucson), 574-9658. The world's
only ballistic missile complex that has been preserved as a museum
is the unique Titan Missile Museum. Guided one-hour tours of the
facility are conducted daily. W. Duval Mine Road, Green Valley,
625-7736 (Tucson phone 791-2929).
Pre-Columbian artifacts and Western American art can be viewed
at the Tucson Museum of Art along with Spanish Colonial and twentieth
century European and American art. In addition to the main museum
building is La Casa Cordova, housing the Mexican Heritage Museum,
and the Casa Romero Art School. 140 N. Main Avenue, 624-2333.
The University of Arizona Museum of Art houses the Kress Collection
of more than fifty European paintings from the Renaissance through
the seventeenth century, including the twenty-six gilded, fifteenth-century
Spanish paintings by Fernando Gailego that make up the "Retablo
of the Cathedral of Ciudad Rodrigo". The museum's twentieth-century
collection of art and sculpture features models by Jacques Lipchitz
and works by Picasso, Rodin, Henry Moore and Andrew Wyeth. Visiting
exhibits are also on view. Park Avenue and Speedway Boulevard, 621-7567.
Another unique museum at the university is the Center for Creative
Photography. With over 50,000 photographs of about 1,400 photographers,
the center houses one of the most comprehensive collections in the
world. Featured are the complete sets of photos by Ansel Adams,
Edward Weston and Richard Avedon. 1030 N. Olive Road, 621-7968.
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun is a memorial to Tucson artist Ted DeGrazia.
His paintings, bronzes and ceramics are displayed in the unique
adobe building which he designed. Works of local artists are also
on display. 6300 N. Swan Road, 299-9199.
In the center city area is the Tucson Arts District which is filled
with galleries, studios and shops featuring works of every type.
Old Town Artisans in the El Presidio Historic District is where
hundreds of regional and Latin American artists exhibit. And, on
the first and third Saturdays of the month, Downtown Saturday Night
- a celebration of both visual and performing arts - takes place.
Galleries and shops remain open and the atmosphere is festive with
music and imomptu performances.
Historic Districts & Dwellings
Tucson has a number of historic neighborhoods that create interesting
walking tours. The Armory Park Historic District is located west
of Stone Avenue between 12th and 19th streets. Developed in the
late 1800s by the Southern Pacific Railroad, this residential area
features Queen Anne Victorians and a regional style called Anglo
Territorial - a blend of Spanish Colonial, Mexican materials and
American design features.
South of Cushing Street between Stone Avenue and the railroad is
the Barrio Historico Historic District (also called Barrio Viejo).
More than 150 adobes are located here and many have been restored.
This district is part of the original Barrio Libre, the oldest area
of the city. The 100-year-old Cushing Street Bar displays photographs
of the old neighborhood.
North of Armory Park is the Pie Allen Neighborhood which is south
of 6th Street between Park Avenue and 6th Avenue. This is a residential
area named after an apple pie salesman, John Bracket (Pie) Allen,
who laid claim to the land, knowing housing would be needed for
railroad workers. Anglo Territorial, Sonoran adobe and Revival-style
Farther north, south of Speedway Boulevard between Tydall Avenue
and Stone is the West University Historic District. This is another
residential area developed around 1900 with a mix of architectural
The most interesting historic district is El Presidio south of 6th
Street between Granada and Church avenues. This area was Tucson's
original neighborhood established in 1775 around the Spanish presidio.
The Tucson Museum of Art complex and Old Town Artisans are in this
district along with other magnificent buildings.
The Tucson/Pima County Historical Commission can confirm hours and
assist with tours of these districts. 791-4121.
Flora & Fauna
The desert is filled with unique plants and Tucson has several locations
where they can be seen. Tucson Botanical Gardens has over 500 different
native desert plants, herbs and flowers. Over five acres are covered
with a collection of gardens including a historical Tucson garden,
herb garden, cactus and succulent garden, spring wildflower garden
and an iris garden among others. Also, there is a tropical greenhouse
and lecture tours are available. 2150 N. Alvernon Way, 326-9255.
Tohono Chul Park is another site where cacti and other succulents
can be observed in a natural desert environment. This private park
has ramadas, various gardens, a stream and nature trails. There
is an exhibition hall and guided tours are offered. 7366 N. Paseo
del Norte, 575-8468.
A living museum, the 12-acre Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum displays
over 1,200 kinds of plants and 200 animal species native to the
Sonoran Desert. Underground limestone cave galleries exhibit subterranean
life and geology. The Congdon Earth Sciences Center has exhibits
depicting the Earth's history. Guided tours of the grounds are provided.
2021 N. Kinney Road, 883-2702.
Seventeen acres of the 160-acre Gene C. Reid Park are devoted to
Tucson's Reid Park Zoo. Over 350 exotic animals, fish, reptiles
and birds from all around the world can be observed in naturalistic
settings. East 22nd Street between Country Club Road and Alvernon
Built in 1939 by Columbia Pictures for the filming of Arizona, Old
Tucson Studios is a replica of 1860 Tucson. Mock gunfights, stunt
demonstrations, stagecoach rides, saloon revues and museums filled
with plenty of Western memorabilia are the main attractions. There
are also shops, restaurants and an antique carousel. 201 S. Kinney
Known as the "White Dove of the Desert", Mission San Xavier Del
Bac is a brilliantly white Spanish structure with carvings, arches,
domes and spires. Located on the Tohono O'Odham Indian Reservation,
the mission was completed in 1797 by the Franciscans and is still
active. A 45-minute self-guiding tour is available. 1950 W. San
Xavier Road, 294-2624.
On the main campus of the University of Arizona is Flandrau Science
Center & Planetarium featuring star and laser shows in the Dome
Theater. Optical science, astronomy and space exploration exhibits
encourage visitor experimentation and a 16-inch telescope is available
to the public for night viewings, weather permitting. University
Boulevard and Cherry Avenue, 621 -STAR.
Also on the University of Arizona Campus is the Steward Observatory
containing a 21 -inch telescope and a 7-inch photographic telescope.
For information about public access call 621-2288.
Fifty-six miles southwest of Tucson in the Quintan Mountains of
the Sonoran is Kitt Peak National Observatory. The world's largest
solar telescope, the 100-foot-high McMath, is housed here along
with twenty others. A visitor center offers one-hour guided tours,
exhibits about the universe and observatory and a thirty-minute
film. Off SR 86, 620-5350.
Tombstone, "the town too tough to die", is 73 miles southeast of
Tucson and is a National Historic Site. Built in the 1880s, during
the wild west days of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, Tombstone's attractions
include the Bird Cage Theatre, Boothill Graveyard, the O.K. Corral
and the Rose Tree Inn Museum. The Historama offers a show combining
a taped narration and animated figures on a revolving stage to tell
the history of Tombstone. US 80, 457-2211.
A half-hour south on State Highway 80 is the old mining town of
Bisbee. Here, visitors don miner's caps and slickers to take an
underground tour of the Queen Mine or visit such attractions as
Brewery Gulch, the Mining & Historical Museum and the Lavender
Pit Mine. More than 25,000 items spanning 10,000 years of cultural
history in the Americas can be found at the Amerind Foundation Museum,
64 miles east of Tucson in the rock formations of Texan Canyon.
The primary focus is on the cultures of the Southwest, the Pacific
Northwest, the Arctic and the Indian civilizations of Mexico and
South America. An art gallery display works by Native Americans
and Western artists including works by Frederic Remington. Off 1-10
at exit 318, Dragoon, 586-3666.
One of the world's largest dry caverns, Colossal Cave, is 22 miles
east of Tucson. Guided tours wind through fascinating crystal formations
illuminated by hidden lights and a formerbank robbers' hideout.
Old Spanish Trail Road, 791-7677.
Tumacacori National Monument, 48 miles south of Tucson, was once
a Pima Indian village. It became a Spanish mission in 1697 when
Jesuit Father Kino arrived. The ruins of a massive adobe church,
which was never completed because of Apache raids, are here along
with a museum where exhibits unfold local history and mission life.
Thirty-five miles north of Tucson is Biosphere 2, a three-acre,
airtight, steel-and-glass structure which is a microcosm of Earth.
A guided tour starts with a film introduction at the Preview Center
where there is a replica of the biosphere. Afterwards there is a
walking tour of the different Biosphere 2 environments including
tropical rain forest, savanna, marsh, ocean, desert, agricultural
and human bays. This is a test site for determining an ecosystem's
ability to recycle air, water and nutrients in order to sustain
plant and animal life. Visitor Center, Highway 77, Mile Marker 96.5,