The 23-year-old museum has struggled over the years to legitimize itself in the local museum world, growing from a 3,000-square-foot historical society largely devoted to Mesa's Mormon settlers into a first-rate center for Southwestern archaeological study. If you go -- and you should -- you will be treated to interesting displays on Arizona's caves, Spanish missions, ancient mammoth hunters and the Lost Dutchman mine. Most impressive of all, however, is the new three-story Dinosaur Mountain exhibit. The artificial mountain, complete with flash floods and thunderstorms, is home to three animated beasts and a dozen or so static models and cast skeletons of dinos from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
Mesa Southwest Museum is located at 53 North Macdonald in downtown Mesa. The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors (55 and over) and students with ID, $3 for children 3 to 12. Museum members and children under 3 are admitted free. For more information, call the museum at 480-644-2230.