The Museum of Northern Arizona, founded in 1928, is devoted to inspiring "a sense of love and responsibility for the beauty and diversity of the Colorado Plateau through collecting, studying, interpreting, and preserving the region’s natural and cultural heritage." The Museum of Northern Arizona is the perfect place to begin your Four Corners/Colorado Plateau tour. The museum has major collections and exhibits derived from it's 80 year long research programs in geology/paleontology, ecology/biology, archaeology and regional cultural history. It is also an art museum featuring the works of many well known artists of the Colorado Plateau with notable collections of Gunnar Widforss, Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton, Fred and Michael Kabotie, Harrison Begay, Alan Houser, Dan Namingha and many others. Major exhibits include Native Peoples of the Colorado Plateau, an award winning exhibit that traces the history of the human experience on the Colorado Plateau. The exhibit has beautiful displays of native ceramics, basketry, textiles and katsina dolls. A reconstructed Hopi kiva is the home of a comtemporary mural called the Journey of the Human Spirit by the late Michael Kabotie and Delbridge Honaine. The exhbit featuring the geology/paleontology of the Colorado Plateau traces the evolution of the landscape and the diversity of life in the region over the past 1.5 billion years. Special exhibits galleries feature regularly changing art exhibits that present diverse perspectives on the Colorado Plateau through the eyes of various artists. The historic Golightly Courtyard features exhibits on the life zones and plant communities of Northern Arizona.
The museum, built of native volcanic rock, is nestled in a beautiful ponderosa pine forest at the edge of the Rio de Flag, a canyon, carved into a lava flow, that runs past the entrance of the museum. The museum galleries consisting of white plaster walls, Douglas fir beams, and skylights that connect the visitors to the surrounding landscape, create an accessible and intimate atmosphere that in itself celebrates the region.
In summer months, the museum sponsors four major Heritage Festivals featuring music, dance, art sales and Hertiage Insights presentations given by native scholars and cultural experts. On Memorial Day weekend the museum hosts the Zuni Festival, 4th of July weekend the Hopi Festival, early August the Navajo Festival and late October, the Celebraciones de la Gente, a celebration of Latino culture.