HomeAstronomyThe Best Downtown Tucson Museums
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Tucson Jewish Mayor

(Courtesy Jewish History Museum)


If you want to understand Tucson's history & rich cultural heritage, you will find these downtown museums both educational & fascinating.

The Jewish History Museum

Jewish History Museum, Tucson Arizona

Jewish History Museum, Tucson Arizona

The Jewish History Museum is housed in an old synagogue built in 1910. It is not spacious, yet it offers serious exhibits related to the contributions of many Jews, such as the Drachman brothers, and the vitality of early Tucson.  Did you know, for example, counting the current mayor, Tucson has had 5 Jewish mayors?

Adjacent to the Jewish History Museum is the Holocaust History Center. Over two hundred and thirty Holocaust survivors from eighteen nations made Southern Arizona their home during the post-WWII era. The Holocaust History Center exhibits illuminate the history of Nazi persecution and its aftermath through the lives of those who were there.

Your understanding of Tucson history will be seriously incomplete if you are not aware of the Jewish community’s contribution to the development of our city.

Whenever the JHM is open, a docent is there to enlighten. The exhibits only tell a part of the story. The docents bring the exhibits to life.

Open to the public Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1 to 5 PM.
Friday from Noon to 3 PM.

Admission: $7. Free to students and young children.
564 South Stone

Sculpture In Front Of Tucson Museum Of Art

Sculpture In Front Of Tucson Museum Of Art

Tucson Museum Of Art & Historic Block

If you enjoy Southern Arizona and love art and history, you will surely appreciate our Tucson Museum of Art. The permanent exhibits in the main gallery are small, but worthwhile. However, on permanent display in the adjacent historic buildings are several treasures, including the Pavilion of Western Art in the Edward Nye Fish House, and Latin American, pre-Columbian, and Spanish Colonial era art in the Stevens/Duffield House.

The historic Romero House is where you will find students of all ages busy in the Museum's ceramics programs working their potter's wheels and firing their clay creations in the kilns. La Casa Cordova, one of the oldest buildings in Tucson, houses displays showing life in the Old Pueblo when it was still a small Mexican village.The J. Knox Corbett House, once home to a wealthy Tucson merchant, was built at the turn of the previous century and is filled with furnishing from that era. We have a video tour the Corbett House. To watch, click HERE.

Every few months, the Museum offers new shows from major traveling exhibits. These temporary exhibits are always visually stunning and are usually accompanied by compelling narratives, such as the recent Frida Kahlo exhibit and Scott Baxter's amazing portraits: 100 Years - 100 Ranchers.

Dining At The Museum of Art
Another delight at Tucson Museum of Art is Cafe' A La C'art, where you can get a fine breakfast; a fresh salad or generous sandwich for lunch (excellent burgers) or enjoy duck, scallops, lamb, or fish for dinner. They also have the best desserts.

The Museum is located on a full city block bounded by West Alameda, North Main Ave, West Washington, and North Meyer in the historic El Presidio Neighborhood located in the heart of downtown Tucson. The official street address is 140 North Main Avenue.

Spanish Soldier At El Presidio San Agustin de Tucson  circa 1776

Spanish Soldier At El Presidio San Agustin de Tucson circa 1776

El Presidio San Agustin del Tucson

The Spanish built a fort, or presidio, in this remote northern region of New Spain at the same time a few British colonists on the Atlantic coast of America declared their independence from the English Crown, 1776.

Originally, "El Presidio San Agustin del Tucson" was only a few scattered buildings, some behind wooden palisades. It wasn't until 1783 that the thick adobe walls were completed, following a near-disastrous Apache attack. At it zenith, the presidio encompassed about 11 acres of what became Downtown Tucson.

This walled compound was constructed only a few city-blocks east of the Santa Cruz River on a Ho-ho-kam' village site that had been abandoned around 900 C.E. Their descendants, the Pima and Papago (now Tohono O'odham) Indians had lived here for hundreds of years before the Spanish arrived. When the presidio was completed, the natives lived outside the walls.The presidio was still intact when the United States bought what is now the southern half of New Mexico and Arizona from Mexico in 1854. However, soon thereafter, the Americans began dismantling the massive walls to make way for their town. The last standing section of the presidio walls was destroyed in 1918.

Reconstruction of a portion of the old presidio began in 2006. Today, you can visit the presidio and its permanent exhibits & gift store, and occasional festivals, re-enactments, and official ceremonies.

To watch our interview with a 1776 Spanish soldier stationed at El Presidio San Agustin de Tucson, click HERE. To watch our video interview with a Spanish soldier's wife as she tells us about the terrifying Apache attack of 1782 and the one thing that saved them from annihilation, click HERE.

133 W. Washington Street

Early 20th Century Tucson, AZ

Early 20th Century Tucson, AZ

Arizona Historical Society Downtown Tucson

Here you will find the story of Tucson from the late 19th to the early 20th century. It is a most interesting story, particularly when you consider what locals had to endure without air conditioning.

Excellent exhibits depict early Tucson businesses, such as drug stores, barbershops, hotels & saloons, and introduce us to many of the growing community's prominent individuals.
Here too is the Dillinger exhibit about how, in 1934, Tucson police captured one of America's Most Wanted.

To see our brief video, click HERE.
The museum is located in the Wells Fargo Building at 150 N. Stone Ave. Be sure to call for hours. (520) 770-1473

Southern Arizona Transportation Museum

Golf N’ Stuff: Summer Fun, Discount Prices!

Golf N' Stuff

We at Southern Arizona Guide have recommended a long list of “Things To Do With Kids In Tucson”, including Family Fun Parks. Everyone agrees that they are great fun for kids of every age. And during the summer of 2016, parents and grandparents can save money with special discounts. Golf … Continue reading

Apaches Attack A Stagecoach; Passenger and Driver Murdered!

Apache Chief Nana

Arizona Weekly Citizen: August 7, 1881 Back in the 1860’s to 1880’s, the terrorist threat to Anglo and Mexican Tucsonans was local and ever-present. Only back then, they weren’t called “terrorists”. They were called “Apaches”. Click on the picture to enlarge the article. Background to the Article In the 19th … Continue reading

Wyatt Earp and the Earp Vendetta Ride

Wyatt and Doc

The Gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone was only the beginning of the murderous conflict between Wyatt Earp, his brothers and their friends, and the outlaw gang known as ‘The Cowboys’. ‘The Cowboys’ were about two-dozen hard riding, hard drinking ranchers and rustlers, their hired hands and gunslingers. Most … Continue reading

Living With Coyotes

Coyote

Arizona Game & Fish Department estimates that about 200,000 coyotes live in Arizona. They are equally at home in the wild, in our cities and in the suburbs; anywhere they can snatch a meal.

Continue reading

Sonoita Horse Races: 2016

Hat Contest: Sonoita Horse Races 2016

First Saturday in May 2016 We have been planning to go to the Sonoita Horse Races ever since we moved to Tucson 13 years ago, and just never seemed to make it. That all changed this year. Of course we go to the Rillito Horse Races every year … win … Continue reading

Look to the Mountains: A History of Mt. Lemmon

Rose Canyon Lake on the way to Summerhaven and Ski Valley near the summit of Mt. Lemmon.

I found this book on the history of Mt. Lemmon at the Palisades Ranger Station on Mt. Lemmon last summer and have been trying to get time to read it ever since. The complete title is: Look to the Mountains: An in-depth look into the lives and times of the people … Continue reading

Tucson Folk Festival 2016

Old couple dancing at Tucson Folk Festival 2016

I am an unabashed fan of the Tucson Folk Festival celebrated the first weekend in May. This year was their 31st annual. Five stages, 120 performers, 2 days of hand-clapping, foot-stomping, ass-shaking good times. This is where the young come to learn  a few of life’s lessons through songs both … Continue reading

Apache May: An Indian Girl On The Slaughter Ranch

This is the dress and vest Apache May wore when Sheriff John Slaughter discovered her.

“Texas” John Slaughter was the sheriff who cleaned up Cochise County after the Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday left Arizona. He was as tough as they come and, among the outlaw class, earned the moniker “that wicked little gringo”. As despised and feared as he was by the outlaws, he … Continue reading



Best museumsTo learn about more worthwhile museums in Tucson, whether art or other, see our list of the Best Museums here.

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