Best Underground Museum Phoenix 2011 - ASU Art Museum
The ASU Art Museum is hard to miss — and the architect meant it that way. Nestled in the middle of a sprawling, desert-pink complex, the museum was designed by Antoine Predock in 1989. You wouldn't know it from the outside, but the main floor of the museum is underground. Inspired by desert architecture such as the Egyptian Valley of the Kings, Predock set a lofty goal: to create an oasis of art. After the visitor descends several sloping levels of steps, he or she passes into a cavernous antechamber where fountains cool and humidify the air and invite him or her to discover the secrets within. The galleries of the museum are arranged in three levels, and the space is full of hidden rooms. Predock intended for the space to be mysterious and for the layout to be a little tricky to navigate; this way, the experience of the museum is truly a process of discovery. We can tell you firsthand that it worked. We've lost track of the number of times we've gotten lost in this museum. Bonus hidden treasure: the tucked-away Jules Heller Print Study Room, home of the museum's encyclopedic collection of prints, including works by Rembrandt, Goya, and Whistler.