Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is to inspire people to live in harmony with the natural world by fostering love, appreciation, and understanding of the Sonoran Desert.
Founded in 1952, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is widely recognized throughout the world as a model institution for innovative presentation and interpretation of native plants and animals featured together in ecological exhibits. The Museum is regularly listed as one of the top ten zoological parks in the world because of its unique approach in interpreting the complete natural history of a single region (in our case this is the Sonoran Desert and adjacent ecosystems). This represents a significant achievement, as the Museum's collections and size are smaller than many of its counterparts. Not a "museum" in the usual sense, it is an unparalleled composite of plant, animal, and geologic collections with the goal of making the Sonoran Desert accessible, understandable, and treasured.
Today, this approach can be most easily understood by noting that the collections consist of 2,744 animals (representing 320 vertebrate and invertebrate taxa); 1,217 plant taxa cataloged (an estimated 72,000 plants are found on the grounds, but most are in the natural desert areas and are not accessioned); and 14,482 rock and mineral specimens (including 2,068 fossils). More than 175 of the plants and animals in the collection are of conservation concern in the Sonoran Desert region.
William H. Carr inspired and founded the Museum with the support of his friend and the Museum's initial benefactor, Arthur Pack, conservationist and editor of Nature Magazine. Carr had earlier founded the Bear Mountain Trailside Museum in New York , affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History, where he developed his ideas at Bear Mountain working with native plants and animals to create a regionally-focused collection.