Tucson Travel Guide

Tucson Sights

Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block

  • 140 N. Main Ave. Map It
  • Downtown

Published 11/18/2015

Fodor's Review

The five historic buildings on this block are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. You can tour La Casa Cordova, the Stevens Home, the J. Knox Corbett House, and the Edward Nye Fish House, but the Romero House, believed to incorporate a section of the presidio wall, is now used for the museum's ceramics education program. You can also visit the main museum of art itself. The museum building houses a permanent collection of modern, contemporary, and Asian art and hosts traveling shows. A gift shop featuring local artisans' work is also here. In the center of the museum complex, connecting the main museum to the surrounding historic houses, is the Plaza of the Pioneers, honoring Tucson's early citizens.

La Casa Cordova, one of the oldest buildings in Tucson, is also one of the best local examples of a Sonoran row house. This simple but elegant design is a Spanish style adapted to adobe construction. The oldest section of La Casa Cordova, constructed around 1848, has

been restored to its original appearance, and is the Mexican Heritage Museum. "El Nacimiento," a permanent installation of nativity scenes and depictions of Mexican family life, is on display here from November through March.

The Stevens Home was where the wealthy politician and cattle rancher Hiram Stevens and his Mexican wife, Petra Santa Cruz, entertained many of Tucson's leaders during the 1800s. A drought brought the Stevens's cattle ranching to a halt in 1893, and Stevens killed himself in despair after unsuccessfully attempting to shoot his wife (the bullet was deflected by the comb she wore in her hair). The 1865 house was restored in 1980, and now houses the Tucson Museum of Art's permanent collections of pre-Columbian, Spanish-colonial, and Latin American folk art.

The J. Knox Corbett House was built in 1906–07 and occupied by members of the Corbett family until 1963. The original occupants were J. Knox Corbett, a successful businessman, postmaster, and mayor of Tucson, and his wife, Elizabeth Hughes Corbett, an accomplished musician and daughter of Tucson pioneer Sam Hughes. Tucson's Hi Corbett field (now the baseball field for the U of A Wildcats) is named for their grandnephew, Hiram. The two-story, Mission Revival–style residence has been furnished with Arts and Crafts pieces: Stickley, Roycroft, Tiffany, and Morris are among the more famous manufacturers represented.

Permanent and changing exhibitions of Western art fill the Edward Nye Fish House, an 1868 adobe that belonged to an early merchant, entrepreneur, and politician, and his wife. The building is notable for its 15-foot beamed ceilings and saguaro cactus–rib supports.

Admission to the museum and all four homes is half price on the first Sunday of every month. There are free docent tours of the museum, and you can pick up a self-guided tour map of El Presidio district. There's free parking in a lot behind the museum at Washington and Meyer streets.

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Sight Information


140 N. Main Ave., Tucson, Arizona, 85701, USA

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Sight Details:

  • $10
  • Tues., Wed., Fri., and Sat. 10–5, Thurs. 10–8, Sun. noon–5. Free guided tours Tues.–Sat. at 11 and 2, Sun. at 2

Published 11/18/2015


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