Dwight B. and Maie Bartlett Heard built a museum to house their private collection of art which came from La Ciudad Indian ruin they acquired in 1926 at 19th and Polk streets in Phoenix, Arizona. This museum came to be known as the Heard Museum (also referred to as the Heard) with the Heard Museum North Scottsdale and the Heard Museum West branches in Scottsdale and Surprise, Arizona respectively. Aside from having a place to safely store the said collections, the Heard also aims to share the story behind these historic and cultural artifacts representing the heritage and cultures of southwest native peoples.
The Heard Museum was established on 1929 by the Heard couple (from which it was named after) but was opened to the public a few months after Dwight Heard?s death and grew in size through the management and guidance of Maie Bartlett Heard Maie Heard who acted as museum director, curator, custodian, lecturer and guide for more than two decades.
Considered not a history museum but a living museum, the Heard is renowned internationally for the excellence of its collections consisting of about 40,000 pieces with more than 34,000 volumes of archives in a library.
The volunteers of the museum composed of Heard Museum Auxiliary (established to assist with educational programs) and the Heard Museum Guild (with about 700 members) initiated two major fundraising projects in 1956, a museum Shop and a Fair. The museum takes pride of its famous festival called the Indian Fair and Market which has been a success for 50 years now. One of the features of the Indian Fair and Market is the Juried competition where selected or approved artists compete in eight categories: Jewelry and Lapidary Work; Pottery; Paintings, Drawings, Graphics, Photography; Wooden Carvings; Sculpture; Textiles, Weavings, Clothing; Diverse Art Forms; and Baskets.
The Heard also features exhibits including Home: Native Peoples in the Southwest, The Mareen Allen Nichols Collection of contemporary jewelry numbering to about 260 pieces, The Barry Goldwater Collection of historic Hopi kachina dolls totaling 437 unique items and an exhibition on the 19th century boarding school experiences of Native Americans.
The Heard Museum?s expansion started in 1968 and to date it has more than 130,000 square feet of gallery, classroom, and performance area, which only means the Heard plays a very important role in the development of Phoenix, Arizona?s history. With its historical and cultural significance, the main branch of the Heard in Phoenix has gained its recognition as one of the 33 landmarks and attractions designated as Phoenix Points of Pride.