SunWest Blog

American Indian Art and Culture at the Smoki Museum

An institution in the Prescott Valley since 1935, the Smoki Museum boasts over 7,000 visitors a year and a collection of thousands of items relating to the indigenous cultures of AZ and the Southwest. Celebrating it’s 80th birthday earlier this year, the museum is located east of the Sharlot Hall museum and the building was designed to resemble a pueblo made of native stone and wood.

smoki museum

The museum initially came into being when Kate Cory donated eight paintings and a photograph album. Dr. Byron Cummings of the University of Arizona was also looking for a home for artifacts that he was excavating. The result of their collaboration, along with Sharlot Hall and the Smoki People, a group of Prescott citizens intent on preserving American indian ceremonies and dances, became the Smoki Museum.

The collections include clothing, ornaments and ceremonial artifacts from the Sioux, Apache and Woodland Indians. The museum also houses an extensive collection of baskets from the local Yavapai, Apache, Pima, Tohono O’odham and Seri tribes and various California tribes. On top of the relics, the art collection includes oil and watercolor paintings, charcoal drawings and hundreds of Hopi photographs provided by Ms. Cory. The Smoki Museum library contains some 600 volumes, mostly on Native American prehistory and ethnography. In 1991, the museum became a non-profit and has since become listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Current and upcoming events at the Smoki Museum include:

  • The 2nd Saturday Lecture Series, which features speakers in the field of native American history. Upcoming speakers include Erik Berg on August 8th, Todd Bostwick on September 12th, John Westerlund on October 10th.
  • Lloyd “Kiva” New. A fashion designer who came into prominence after World War II, New’s work combined traditionally woven and hand-dyed textiles with indigenous symbolism. New’s work is currently on display at the Smoki Museum.

If you’re looking to explore the heritage of the indigenous tribes of the Southwest, the Smoki Museum is a great place to start! For hours and directions, go to smokimuseum.org.