The Museum of Northern Arizona is one of the treasures of Flagstaff. Located just four miles from Flagstaff’s town square on Fort Valley Road (Highway 180), the route to the Grand Canyon, the Museum is the “Gateway to the Colorado Plateau.”
Founded in 1928 as a community effort by a group of Flagstaff citizens, the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) is a private, nonprofit institution that was originally established as a repository for Native American artifacts and natural history specimens from the Colorado Plateau. The original founders, zoologist Dr. Harold S. Colton and artist Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton, were dedicated to preserving the history and cultures of northern Arizona.
The museum’s mission – To inspire 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.
Visitors to the museum can see wonderful, interpretive displays of the geological, biological and biotic history of the region. An assortment of fossil fish and sharks, as well as a variety of invertebrates and plants, along with a plesiosaur skeleton, are all on display, many in a hands-on way. The formation of the San Francisco Peaks and the entire Colorado plateau region are depicted in models and interactive audio-visual installations.
MNA holds an extensive collection of Native American artifacts, natural science specimens and fine art pieces. Casual visitors get a look at a broad interpretation of these in various galleries, however more than five million artifacts are held in repositories on a 200 acre campus dedicated to research and preservation. Among more than 40 buildings on the campus, the Easton Collection Center was dedicated in 2009, a 17,000 square foot building, dedicated to housing collection objects in the best possible environment for preservation.
Each year, MNA hosts four Heritage Program Festivals in the summer and fall, popular with residents and tourists alike, with insightful programming, music, dances, and fine arts and crafts – the Zuni Festival of Arts and Culture, the Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture, the Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture, and the Celebraciónes de la Gente (dedicated to Mexican, Mexican American and Hispanic cultures).
MNA’s Discovery Program is a gateway into the wonders of the region for youth, ages 4 – 18. Discovery summer classes offer creative and meaningful exploration. Spring Break classes provide new opportunities for expanding knowledge and creativity. Second Saturdays provide fun family activities, every second Saturday of the month from 2–4 p.m. Taught by experienced educators, these programs offer an exciting range of hands-on learning opportunities about the region’s traditions of fine arts, natural sciences, Native cultures, and ecology.
MNA’s Ventures Program offers unparalleled opportunities to discover and explore the Colorado Plateau — 130,000 square miles of spectacular mountains, mesas, and canyonlands in the Four Corners region of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. Participants can experience the rich natural wonders and cultures of this region through the eyes of scientists, writers, artists, cultural consultants, and guides. The goal is to provide exceptional outdoor educational experiences. Ventures range in length from a day to a week. Diverse itineraries include hiking, backpacking, river rafting, camping, van tours, and lodge-based excursions.
MNA actively conducts research across the Colorado Plateau region in the fields of anthropology, biology, fine art, geology and paleontology, and Native cultures.
The Museum of Northern Arizona is located at 3101 N. Fort Valley Road in Flagstaff, and is open year-round. (928) 774-5213