The Tempe History Museum sits on the corner of Rural Road and Southern Avenue in Tempe, Ariz. The complex also features the Tempe library and community center.The space around the museum is full of shade and places to sit.The museum itself welcomes those coming in from the desert sun to take a peek at some of Tempe’s stories and, of course, it’s cool air conditioning.
The entrance is very modern with a community room to the right, a mini gift shop, a front desk, and some
lounge seating. The exhibit hall opens to the back right of the room and the first thing the visitor sees is an overview of what is in the main gallery. There are lots of interactive displays and large objects that the wandering eye likes to catch. The first exhibit to the left is called “Surviving the Desert,” where the visitor can learn exactly how they manage to sustain life in an area that resembles the blistering heat of hell (living in Tempe in June, July, and August makes you feel like ants under a magnifying glass in the Sahara). The exhibit itself is very informative and helps you understand that we humans did not adapt to the desert, but transformed the desert to suit our needs. Take that nature!
Along the side and back walls is the College Town exhibit. This exhibit goes through the history of Arizona State University and its impact on the city of Tempe. Tempe prides itself on the productive relationship it shares with the university. As ASU has grown into a world institution, the city of Tempe has benefited from housing a top-of-the-line research university.
The rest of the museum has interactive exhibits with computers and objects for kids to climb. The museum itself is built for a shared experience with families. There are many activities children can engage in to learn more about Tempe and themselves. People can learn about the farming life Tempe once had, the progression of medicine, and find and learn about many of the historical sites and buildings that still exist there.
The only negative thing I have to say is the small exhibit that is thrown in the back corner of the museum. This exhibit entitled “They Were Here First and Living Together” looks to be almost an afterthought. The exhibit itself is very fascinating and deserves to be in a more significant place. Visitors learn about the American Indians who lived in Tempe before settlers and how diversity has shaped the city. This history is an important part of Tempe’s identity.
I encourage everyone to visit the Tempe History Museum. It is the best community museum I have been to and really encourages learning about Tempe and Arizona which is important for the people living here. Best of all, it’s free! Poor college students, you have no excuse!
Have you been to the Tempe History Museum? Have a burning historical question? Reach us through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on twitter @sparkysquill.