The Museum of Northern Arizona is located at the base of the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff, Arizona. The museum preserves the rich history of the Colorado Plateau with a collection of artifacts as well as research, education, and conservation initiatives. The permanent collection encompasses over 600,000 artifacts in the areas of fine art, biology, anthropology, and geology.
The Easton Collection Center opened in 2009 and is a LEED-certified state of the art building that houses the majority of the museum’s collection in a controlled environment. Fine art collections include Native American artifacts and paintings by Native and Anglo Americans from the Santa Fe Indian School’s famed Studio Arts program. The arts collection includes reproductions of murals made by Awatovi and Kawaika villages between the years 1300 and 1700. Over 50 paintings and sculptures by the museums’ founder Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton are included in the Fine Art collection. Mrs. Colton was a student at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women and exhibited with the Philadelphia Ten throughout the early 1900s. The Ethnology Gallery explores the culture and history of Native Americans in the area through the exploration of family structure, ceremonies, arts, and agriculture. A collection of Native American ethnographic and anthropologic objects is exhibited in the Hopi Kiva Gallery and includes basketry, weavings, and pottery. Biological collections include over 30,000 catalogued plant specimens representative of the flora of the Grand Canyon region and northern Arizona plateau. The collection includes indigenous food plants as well as ceremonial and medicinal plants. An invertebrate collection includes over 300,000 species of fauna native to the area. Spiders, butterflies, beetles, and dragonflies are just some of the preserved insect specimens. The vertebrate collection includes preserved zoological specimens such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The museum is noted for the Hargrave Collection of over 3,500 bird specimens, and close to 200 eggs from 97 different species. A variety of paleontological specimens include early shark, reptile, and ornithological fauna from the area. Over 20,000 specimens come from the rich fossil-bearing geography of the region. The geological collection includes over 4,000 samples of rocks, minerals, and meteorites. A permanent courtyard exhibit interprets the geological history of the Colorado Plateau. A library of over 76,000 volumes and a research collection of over 150,000 magazines, photographs, maps, and manuscripts rounds out the museum’s holdings.
History: Harold S. Colton and Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton founded the museum in 1928 to protect and preserve the cultural and natural history of the Colorado Plateau. Dr. Colton was a professor of zoology at the University of Pennsylvania, and his wife Mary-Russell was a painter. They moved to Flagstaff in 1926 and quickly became involved in the creation of the museum. In 1930, they hired a physical anthropologist, Katharine Bartlett, as the museum’s curator. Bartlett’s cataloguing procedures over the next 51 years became the foundation of the museum’s research facility. Exhibits today occupy over 24,000 square feet of space and work in a synergistic nature as researchers utilize the collections for studies, then exhibit their findings at the museum. Today, close to 100,000 guests visit the museum annually.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Public programs for all ages include hands-on activities, workshops, lectures, and performances. For adults, Gallery Talks offer additional insight into the museum’s temporary exhibits. The Living Room Lecture Series invites researchers to share their current work with the public. The Sedona Lecture Series invites scientists, artists, and authors for monthly discussions. The Future of the Colorado Plateau Forum brings the community and local decision makers together to discuss the social, environmental, and economic future of the region. The Hot Topics Café is presented in partnership with Northern Arizona University’s Philosophy in the Public Interest Program and offers discussions about significant community topics. Thirsty Thursdays keeps the museum open afterhours with live music, food, and drink. Children’s events include STEAM Saturdays, hands-on activities and crafts offered each second Saturday to promote education in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math. Recent themes have included Nature Nature, California Condors, Rockin’ Geology, and Radical Reptiles.
Past and Future Exhibits: Temporary exhibits have included Tony Abeyta’s Convergence, showcasing more than 20 works by the contemporary Navajo artist featuring paintings, drawings and mixed-media pieces that blend traditional Navajo beliefs with contemporary abstract landscapes and geometric forms. Four on the Floor: Audubon's Quadrupeds was an exhibit of John James Audubon’s historic portfolio of American wildlife. You are On Indian Land offered a critical dialogue on pop culture’s appropriation of indigenous art.
3101 N. Ft. Valley Rd., Flagstaff, AZ 86001, Phone: 928-774-5213