Whether you’ve jetted in from the East Coast, driven leisurely from the West Coast, or are a native of Tucson, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is must-see, primarily outdoor experience – with a botanical garden, natural history museum, and world-class zoo, all for the visitor to behold – in one place. The museum is the leading tourist attraction in Tucson.
It may not be possible to see everything in one day, but visitors are encouraged to spend as much time as they can to gain the most from their visit. The Museum features signature displays of living animals and plants native to the Sonoran Desert – an area encompassing some of California and Arizona and the Baja California and Sonora. Since the indoor exhibits account for only about 15 percent of the museum, it’s best to come equipped to spend the lion’s share of the day outside; that means it’s good to sport sunscreen, comfy shoes and a hat, or appropriate colder weather gear for the few times you’ll need it in Tucson.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is recognized worldwide as a model for the innovative interpretation and presentation of native plants and animals paired in ecological exhibits. The museum is considered one of the top ten zoological parks in the world because of its singular approach to interpreting the complete natural history of a region. This is quite an achievement given that the museum’s collections and size are smaller than many of its counterparts on the list. Not viewed as a traditional museum, it is rather a combination of animal, plant, geologic collections, created to make the Sonoran Desert understandable, widely accessible, and above all, valued.
Today, this innovative approach can be appreciated by taking note of the museum’s collection: the living animal collection contains 4,892 specimens of 242 species; plants represent 56,445 specimens of 1,100 taxa; and 16,853 specimens make up the mineral and fossil collections. Up to 120 species – considered to be of conservation concern – can be seen in the living collection.
We recommend that you call the attractions and restaurants ahead of your visit to confirm current opening times.
1.History: Inspired Thinking
2.The Museum’s Collections
3.Conservation and Research
Things to Do: The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
- History: Inspired Thinking
- The Museum’s Collections
- Conservation and Research
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
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