Culture News

Scottsdale's Museum of the West Plans Major Expansion

Strolling past the museum during a Thursday night Scottsdale ArtWalk.
Strolling past the museum during a Thursday night Scottsdale ArtWalk. Lynn Trimble
Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West has expansion plans, according to museum director and CEO Mike Fox.

Fox was instrumental in creating the museum, which opened in January 2015. It's owned by the city of Scottsdale and operated by a nonprofit called Scottsdale Museum of the West.

click to enlarge Looking towards Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Looking towards Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West.
Lynn Trimble
The museum was designed by the architectural firm Studio Ma based in Phoenix. They're working now with the museum on creating an expansion plan, Fox says.

At this point, no formal site plans have been filed with the city, Fox says. The city will need to review and approve the museum's plans before the expansion can proceed.


The working site plan already includes several basic elements.

The expansion will be located west of the existing building, and be the same height, Fox says. The new 26,000-square-foot extension will be the equivalent of four floors, with two floors and two mezzanines. With the addition, the museum will run about 70,000 square feet.

It's one of many changes coming to the corner of North Marshall Way and Second Street.

Developers are planning to create a Museum Square in that area, to include a hotel set on the city's former Loloma Transit Station. The museum currently has a building for administrative offices on that site, which will be relocated as part of the upcoming expansion.

In addition to gallery space, the expansion will include a standalone research institute specializing in subject areas related to Edward Curtis and Maynard Dixon. The museum has statues of both artists, who sought to capture the Old West, on its existing grounds.

click to enlarge Part of an ongoing exhibition at Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Part of an ongoing exhibition at Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West.
Lynn Trimble
Fox isn't ready to disclose the particulars of those subject areas just yet, but he's got high hopes for the institute. "We want to create a global destination for these particular fields," he says.

It's too soon to know how much the expansion will cost, given that site planning is still underway. But Fox has a general idea of what to expect. "A ballpark amount would be 7 to 10 million dollars," he says. The existing museum cost approximately $13 million.

Likewise, there's no set timeline in place. Fox expects construction for the expansion to parallel construction of the new hotel slated to go up near the museum in time for Super Bowl 2023 in Phoenix. 
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble