The Museum of Northern Arizona is a must see if you are in Flagstaff or the surrounding areas. Museums are not typically at the top of our list when we travel, unless  they are art museums. Typically we gravitate towards outdoors activities that include hiking, botanical gardens, national parks and the like. But the Museum of Northern Arizona changed all that. In appearance, it is quite small from the outside, but looks can be deceiving. Inside, MNA exhibits a marvelous history of the land, the people, and the different native American cultures of the Colorado Plateau.

According to their website “The  mission of The Museum of Northern Arizona is to inspire a sense of love and responsibility for the beauty and diversity of the Colorado Plateau through collecting, studying, interpreting, and preserving the region’s natural and cultural heritage.”  If you want a quick primer on understanding the geological, anthropological and ethnological aspects of the area, take a few hours or even a half day out of your trip and educate yourself and your family on the different attributes of Northern part of this beautiful state. This way when your kids begin asking you all kinds of curiosity questions about the wonderful Northern Arizona characteristics they will be seeing and experiencing, you and they will already have the answers.

The museum is extremely well organized and what makes it great is you can find out a lot or a little about North Arizona depending on how much time you have. We spent about 2 hours there and were able to make it through the entire museum. If we lived in Flagstaff we both agreed we would become members and visit frequently so we could take in more of the information that the museum offers about the area.

The museum has exhibits related to 4 main areas of interest: geology, biology, anthropology and art. MNA has exceptional exhibits of the various Indian people and cultures of the Colorado Plateau. These displays document 12,000 years of occupation by the native people in this region including the Anasazi, Hopi, Zuni and Navajo Indians: from their daily lifestyles to their spiritual beliefs and practices to their art. A highlight of this exhibit is the life size depiction of a Hopi Kiva room used for spiritual rituals and a central focus of these Indian cultures.

The geology exhibit features a large graphic of all the geological periods from the beginning of Earth’s history up to the present. Both kids and adults will enjoy the hands on exhibits of various rocks, fossils and even a meteorite. A highlight of this exhibit is a life size model of a dinosaur skeleton – the Dilophosaurus, a carnivorous dinosaur whose fossils were found in northern Arizona.

There is much more to see and experience at the Museum of Northern Arizona. Don’t miss the exceptional native American art, rugs, and jewelry on display and the museum store where you can begin your Southwestern souvenir collection. MNA is located at 3101 N. Ft. Valley Rd. Flagstaff, AZ 86001 and is open 9 am – 5 pm daily. The cost for adults is $7 and for children 6 and under get in for free. Check out the Museum of Northern Arizona website for more details about exhibits, hours, costs etc. Before you tour the canyons, rivers, reservations, and deserts begin your tour of the Southwest at MNA.

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