Sunday, July 16, 2006

Heard Museum's Rich History

To read an article about the rising desires for Historic Home popularity, click the link here:

Historic Phoenix Homes Information: More U.S. Homeowners Seek Historic Designation

For more than 75 years, the Heard Museum has been a Historic Central Phoenix landmark, a place where visitors from across the globe come to learn about Native cultures and art. With every exhibit, education plays a major role throughout the planning process. Unlike many museums that show "objects on a shelf," the Heard strives to present voices and perceptions of the people who made the work on display, and Native American consultants play a vital role in the development of every exhibition.

The Historic Phoenix's Heard Museum encompasses 130,000 square feet of galleries, classrooms and performance spaces. That's more than eight times the size of the original structure built in 1929 to house the personal collections of Phoenix residents Dwight and Maie Heard.

Dwight Bancroft Heard moved to Chicago from Wayland, Mass., shortly after high school. He began working at Hibbard, Spencer and Bartlett Company, one of the biggest wholesale hardware companies in the country and the precursor of True-Value Hardware Stores. While there, Dwight Heard was a protégé of Adolphus Bartlett and subsequently met Bartlett's daughter, Maie Bartlett. In 1893, Dwight Heard and Maie Bartlett were married. One year later, the couple headed for a warmer, dryer climate andsettled in Phoenix in 1895.

Once settled, the couple began a lifelong dedication to the betterment of their new community. Dwight Heard was one of the largest landowners in the Salt River Valley, and his Bartlett-Heard Land and Cattle Company south of Phoenix raised prize cattle, alfalfa, citrus trees and cotton. He served as the president of the Arizona Cotton Growers' Association. His other business interests included real estate development, investment lending and newspaper publishing.

Maie Heard became actively involved founding or supporting a number of civic endeavors including the Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, YWCA and Woman's Club of Phoenix. Maie Heard and other Bartlett family members donated land for the city's first civic center at the corner of Central Avenue and McDowell Road (where the original Phoenix Art Museum and Phoenix Library were built, and where the Phoenix Art Museum stands today).

The Heards built a 6,000-square-foot house called "Casa Blanca" in what was then north Phoenix. The home featured Spanish-style architecture and was built around an open courtyard. The couple planted hundreds of palm trees along four miles of roads in Los Olivos, the neighborhood surrounding their home that was developed by Dwight Heard, and the couple is credited with introducing the stately trees to Phoenix.

Casa Blanca was a major gathering place, over the years including Marshall Field, Charles L. Hutchinson (founder of the Art Institute of Chicago), Herbert Hoover, Harvey S. Firestone, Theodore Roosevelt and others.

The Heards developed a keen interest in Native American artifacts and art, and they began to acquire pieces that they exhibited in their home. Over the years, the Heards built their collection through travel and contacts with trading posts as well as with Indian arts dealers such as the Fred Harvey Company.

Much of the archaeological material in the Heard's collection came from La Ciudad, a Hohokam Indian ruin they purchased in 1926 at 19th and Polk streets in Phoenix.

Through the years, it became evident that a larger space should be dedicated to the collection and, on the suggestion of their daughter-in-law Winifred, the Heards decided to build a museum.

1929 to 1950

The Historic Central Phoenix Heard Museum opened with little fanfare in June 1929, several months after Mr. Heard died of a heart attack.

Maie Heard acted as museum director, curator, custodian, lecturer and guide at the Heard Museum for more than 20 years, quietly teaching visitors about the Native cultures that were so dear to her heart.

1951 to 1999

The Historic Central Heard Museum underwent significant growth upon Maie Heard's death in 1951. A Board of Trustees was established to ensure the museum's continuation, and several staff members were hired. 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 meticulously plan the Indian Fair & Market, which today draws nearly 20,000 people. Both enjoy national recognition and are major contributors to the Heard Museum's operations. Also in 1958, the first of four expansion projects was completed. 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.

2000 to Today

In February 1999, the Historic Central Phoenix Heard Museum added 50,000 square feet. The expansion added several new structures including an expanded Museum Shop and Bookstore, the Steele Auditorium, the Dorrance Education Center, the Arcadia Farms at the Heard, an artist studio and the Nina Mason Pulliam Pavilion. Also added were a Library and Archives, new administrative space, new collections storage facilities and new exhibit preparation areas. The expansion also added three new exhibit galleries, bringing to 10 the number of galleries at the Heard.

Information courtesy of The Heard Museum.


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