The Tucson Desert Art Museum, a non-profit museum, opened its doors to the public November 1, 2013. Our mission is to display art and artifacts of the Desert Southwest and surrounding regions, and educate our guests about the history, cultures, and art of the region. The Museum includes 25,000 square feet of exhibit space, classrooms, meeting and auditorium space and a library.
At the core of the Museum is one of the Southwest’s premier collections of Navajo and Hopi pre-1940s textiles, including displays of chief’s blankets, Navajo saddle blankets, optical art textiles and Yei weavings. The Museum also has a diverse range of historical artifacts, classic and contemporary Southwestern paintings, including works by Maynard Dixon, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, Gerald Cassidy, Ed Mell, Ray Roberts, Peter Nisbet, Howard Post and other great artists of the Southwest. Special highlights of the museum include exhibits on Navajo sand painting, early armaments of the Southwest and artifacts from the Mesoamerican period.
The Museum also maintains rotating special exhibits, which change out each year.
Nowhere else will the visitor find such an eclectic array of southwestern art and artifacts. Our motto is “visualize history through art.” We invite our guests to immerse themselves in history through our beautiful art!
Located at 7000 East Tanque Verde Road, just west of Udall Park, surrounded by the magnificent panoramic views of the Catalina and Rincon mountains. The Museum is becoming a center for art, culture and education on Tucson's east side.
James E. Conley Jr. (1943-2020)
James E. Conley, Jr., a true Renaissance Man, passed peacefully on March 20, 2020. A newspaperman, business leader, world traveler, philanthropist and art collector, he was born on August 31, 1943 in Madison, Wisconsin to James E. Conley, MD and Lillian Quirk Conley.
Jim will be remembered through his media legacy of weekly and daily newspapers, shoppers, city magazines, trade publications and extensive art collections. James E. Conley Jr., along with the Museum’s first executive director Rhonda R. Smith, founded the Tucson Desert Art Museum, a 501 c 3 nonprofit organization in 2013. The Museum showcases Jim’s premier collection of southwestern art, artifacts and textiles. Jim’s oriental art collection continues to be open to the public through the Heritage Museum of Asian Art in Chicago.
Jim began his career in newspapers in 1967 at the Wall Street Journal and in 1969 purchased his first daily newspaper. Thus, began a lifelong love affair of newspapers… acquiring and building them throughout his life.
Jim’s philanthropic interests were far reaching and impactful. He was a founding member of the Beaver Dam Scholarship Foundation, an organization that awards scholarship funds to students to help attend a 4-year college or technical college of their choice. He supported Clothes 4 Kids, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping children in Wisconsin; served for several years as a member of The Hoover Institute Board of Overseers and provided funding to the Stanford Research Foundation for the translation of the diaries of Chiang Kai-shek; and helped many other nonprofit organizations, enhancing their ability to freely promote public events and exhibitions. He was a member of the Directors Circle of the Tucson Museum of Art and past president of the museum’s Patrons of Western Art group.
As a world traveler and collector, Jim believed that he had a responsibility to share his collections with the public so they would always be available for their education and enjoyment, exhibiting his Oriental collections (Han and Beyond) at the Tucson Museum of Art for six years and at the Milwaukee Art Museum. His southwestern art collections have been shown at the Denver Art Museum, Tucson Museum of Art and other museums throughout the country.
Jim always encouraged the Tucson Desert Art Museum to actively pursue special exhibitions that address or expose bias in our history, so that we may learn from these difficult periods and never repeat them. His order to “never whitewash history” but to tell the truth about our past will continue to be part of the Museum’s mission. His extensive art and artifacts (collected over the course of his entire lifetime) will continue to be an important source of public and scholarly learning for centuries to come.
As a museum with such a special collection, we are thrilled when we can share our treasures with groups. Whether a special-interest group, or a group with special interests, we can accommodate your interests and needs.
You may fill out this form, email us, or call at (520-202-3888) to let us know how we can serve your group with a special tour.
Blue Star Military: Free
7000 E Tanque Verde Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85715
Spring 2022 Hours:
Wednesday - Saturday 10 AM to 3 PM
Closed Sunday - Tuesday and on all major holidays
Tucson Desert Art Museum is a proud member of the following associations:
- American Alliance of Museums
- Museum Association of Arizona
- Tucson Association of Museums
- Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce
- Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance