The mission of the Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art is to educate the public about the heritage and living cultures and arts of Native peoples, with an emphasis on the peoples of the Southwest.
Since its founding by Dwight and Maie Bartlett Heard in 1929 - as a small museum in a small southwestern town - the Heard has grown in size and stature - to where now it is recognized internationally for the quality of its collections, its educational programming and its festivals - and Phoenix has grown along with it. The Heard is a living museum - giving voice to a uniquely American people.
In 1929 - 1950 The Heard Museum opened with little fanfare in June 1929, several months after Dwight Heard died of a heart attack.Maie Heard acted as museum director, curator, custodian, lecturer and guide for more than 20 years.The Heard Museum underwent significant growth upon Maie Heard's death in 1951.
In 1956, the Heard Museum Auxiliary was established to assist with educational programs. Today, the Heard Museum Guild numbers nearly 700.In 1958, the volunteers launched two aggressive fundraising projects, a museum Shop and a Fair. Both activities continue with great success today, thanks to the continuing support of Guild members who work in the Shop and plan the Indian Fair & Market, which today draws nearly 20,000 people.The Jacobson Gallery of Indian Art was added to the museum during the next big expansion in 1968 and '69, which nearly doubled the original building, the Heard Museum experienced another significant expansion in 1983, when it nearly doubled in size again to 78,000 square feet.
In February 1999, the Heard Museum added 50,000 square feet. The expansion added several new structures including an expanded Museum Shop & Bookstore, Steele Auditorium, Dorrance Education Center, The CafÃ© at the Heard Museum, an artist studio and the Nina Mason Pulliam Pavilion. Also added were the Library and Archives, administrative space, collections storage facilities and exhibit preparation areas. The expansion also added three exhibit galleries, bringing the number of galleries at the Heard to 10.The long-awaited, $7.6 million, 21,000 square foot renovation of its permanent collection galleries culminated in the opening of HOME: Native People in the Southwest. The addition of the Berlin Gallery and the June 2007 relocation of Heard Museum North to the Summit in Scottsdale mark the beginning of a whole new era for the Heard, setting a new standard of excellence for the 21st century.