Look, we get it. You think about getting out to a museum far more often than you actually do. Mind-enriching art and cultural exhibits are great, but the gravitational field of Netflix is strong.
And that’s why there’s International Museum Day, every May 18, to give you a little extra incentive with free or discounted admission and other activities.
Alas, it seems fewer Valley museums are participating than did a few years ago. Maybe they’re shifting their loyalty to Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day Live! program in September. (It has an exclamation point, after all.) But here are four great deals (mostly free — and definitely live!) to choose from.
(We should also point out that many museums, such as Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum and the excellent, often-overlooked ASU Art Museum, are always free, and others have free days, including the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which is free on International Museum Day, but only because it’s a Thursday.)
1. Free: Phoenix Art Museum
Arizona’s visual-arts flagship is waiving admission fees (normally $18) all day and offering 10 percent off at the museum store and the Palette café. Activities include making your own surrealist collage (3:30 p.m.) and a gallery talk with fashion curator Dennita Sewell (6 p.m., RSVP required). And if you think “art museum” equals “paintings of flowers,” the diversity of current shows is eye-opening, including the “Samurai” exhibit of Japanese armor; “Good Sport,” spotlighting paintings of everything from baseball to ballet; and “Longer Ways to Go: Photography of the American Road.”
2. Two for one: i.d.e.a. Museum
It’s buy-one-get-one admission ($8) at the Mesa attraction formerly known as the Arizona Museum for Youth. “Caped Crusaders & Everyday Heroes” is the big art show right now, connecting the razzle-dazzle of comic books to real-life role models. Hands-on activities include designing your own digital art and building a chain-reaction machine.
3. Free: Pueblo Grande Museum
The city-owned Phoenix museum spotlights the Hohokam culture that lived in the Salt River Valley for 1,000 years. There will be gallery tours and show-and-tell stations for Museum Day, and Pueblo Grande also features a two-thirds-mile trail touring an ancient archaeological site.
4. Free: Desert Caballeros Western Museum
There’s still an Old West feel to Wickenburg, northeast of the Valley, which is home to this museum that celebrates the history and art of the cowboy era. Current exhibits include “Arizona Military Memories” and “‘Having Their Picture Took’: Western Portrait Photography Then and Now.”