Last updated: 5/13/2019
Tempe, Arizona
Street Address
51 E. Tenth St
Tempe, AZ 85287
Mailing Address
Box 872911
Tempe, AZ 85287
phone: 480-965-2787
Tuesday - Saturday11 AM - 5 PM
Museum Type(s)
Miki Garcia, Director
phone: 480-965-2787
Amanda Urrea, Communications Program Coordinator
phone: 480-965-2787

Named “the single most impressive venue for contemporary art in Arizona” by Art in America magazine, ASU Art Museum, part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, was founded in 1950 with a major gift of American and Latin American works. Reinventing the university art museum, ASU Art Museum reaches beyond traditional boundaries to serve the university, the field and the broader community by pursuing the highest level of research and experimentation in exhibitions, programs, collections and publications.

The museum demonstrates its dedication to innovative collaboration in both global and regional partnerships, presenting contemporary art in all media by regional and international, emerging and established artists. The museum’s commitment to pioneering artists and emergent media is expressed in its exhibitions and programs, which receive both national and international attention.


ASU Art Museum’s mission is to be a meeting point for the exchange of new ideas, perspectives and experiences among artists, students and the public through our exhibitions, residencies, collections and programs. The museum forges meaningful connections across all areas of research in order to create a better, more sustainable future.


ASU Art Museum was founded in 1950 with a significant gift of American, Mexican and European artworks purchased by Oliver B. James, a prominent local lawyer. James donated close to 150 works of art over five-years. The art collection originally was installed in the lobby, hallways and offices of Matthews Library. When the new Hayden Library was completed in 1965, the books were removed and the art remained.

By 1978 the museum occupied the entire second floor of the Matthews Center with 10,000 square feet of exhibition space. Guided by Director Rudy Turk, the museum continued to expand with significant acquisitions in prints and American craft. The ceramics collection increased dramatically in 1977 when a National Endowment for the Arts matching grant was awarded to the museum for the purchase of contemporary American ceramics. Ongoing gifts by collectors and supporters in American and British ceramics have significantly enhanced the collection, and the museum now boasts one of the largest 20th century and contemporary ceramic collections in the United States.

In April 1989, ASU Art Museum moved into Antoine Predock's award-winning Nelson Fine Arts Center on the western edge of the Tempe campus. This facility now includes five expansive galleries and three sculpture courts, collections management and storage, a conservation workspace, museum store, classroom and administrative offices.

Beginning in 1992, director Marilyn A. Zeitlin brought an increased commitment to new art forms and ideas, and significant contributions to the international dialog on contemporary art with exhibitions, publications and collections. In 1995, ASU Art Museum presented the exhibition, Bill Viola: Buried Secrets, in the U.S. Pavilion at the 100th anniversary of the Venice Biennale. The Biennale has been described as the Olympics of the art world and features exhibitions of work by artists from over 60 countries. Zeitlin was chosen to be the Commissioner of the U.S. Pavilion and curated the exhibition by this internationally-renowned video artist. When the exhibition returned to Tempe, it was the first major exhibition of video art in Arizona.

Under the leadership of director Gordon Knox, ASU Art Museum's collection grew to include more than 12,000 objects, and the museum's physical presence expanded to three locations across Metro Phoenix. The ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center moved to a new location in 2002 in downtown Tempe's Mill Avenue District, and the ASU Art Museum Project Space at Combine Studios opened in 2011 in downtown Phoenix's Roosevelt Row Arts District, hosting the museum's Artist Residency program, highlighting multidisciplinary artist-led projects and commissions in partnership with diverse community organizations throughout Phoenix and the Arizona Southwest region. Project Space closed in 2018, but the Artist Residency continues.

With current director Miki Garcia, ASU Art Museum continues to pursue collaborative, research-based projects, which affirm the role of art and artists as central to our understanding of the world and ability to envision the future.


Arizona State University, Arizona Board of Regents


Access: General Public

Appointment required: No


Elevators available.

Wheelchair Accessible



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Riggs Ward Design (RWD) is an award-winning experience planning and design studio headquartered in historic Richmond, Virginia. Over the past 24 years, we have provided experience design, strategic master planning, interpretive planning, research, content analysis, and storyline development for museums, universities, corporations, and cultural institutions. RWD’s services also include exhibit ephemera, books, and fundraising campaign materials.

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