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Palm Springs Desert Museum

101 Museum Drive
Palm Springs, California

Phone: 760-325-7186 --


The Palm Springs Desert Museum is a nonprofit cultural, scientific and educational institution.
The Museum strives to promote a greater understanding of art, natural science and the performing arts for Coachella Valley residents and visitors. It encourages broad public interest in these disciplines through collections, exhibitions and programs. Committed to professional excellence, the Museum is responsible for preservation, study and communication, placing education at the center of its public service role.
The Art Department focuses on collecting 19th and 20th century art with an emphasis on contemporary California art, classic western American art and Native American art. A schedule of changing exhibitions parallels these areas and also includes art of other regions and periods. Through collections, conservation, exhibitions and publications, the Art Department strives to present its audience with art of the highest aesthetic merit.
Natural Science
The Natural Science Department is dedicated to fostering public appreciation, knowledge and responsible stewardship of the desert regions of the Coachella Valley and California. This is accomplished through innovative exhibitions, integrated research and diverse exhibition programs in the disciplines of biology, geology and archaeology.
Performing Arts
The Performing Arts Department emphasizes a variety of national and international music, theater, dance, film and lecture presentations. Recognizing that the creation and performance of art are instrumental to the cultural well-being of our society, the department endeavors to build a distinctive presence in the performing arts through its programming efforts.
Adopted by the Board of Trustees on January 22, 1993
        In 1938 the Palm Springs Desert Museum was founded and housed in a small room in La Plaza Arcade on Palm Canyon Drive and focused on the desert environment and its native peoples. In the center of the present-day business district, La Plaza was a gathering place for residents. Soon the growing Museum found temporary new quarters in a section of the town's library, then expanded again in 1947 into a section of a converted wartime hospital.
         A modern 10,000-square-foot structure was built in downtown Palm Springs in 1958, and in 1962 it expanded to include an auditorium and galleries for contemporary art exhibitions. The Museum continued to grow and a 75,000-square-foot building was designed by architect E. Stewart Williams for a site a few blocks away. In downtown Palm Springs, the architecturally innovative Museum complex enjoys a commanding presence at the base of Mt. San Jacinto.
        The Museum's emphases became threefold: Art, Natural Science and Performing Arts. Educational programs related to each of the three disciplines were planned, and the new Palm Springs Desert Museum opened in January 1976. Its intimate 440-seat Annenberg Theater presents internationally known performers and concert artists in music, dance and theater. The Museum expanded again in 1982 with the opening of the Denney Western American Art Wing and the Marks Administration building. Classic western American art was added to the Museum's art emphasis at that time.
        The need for more exhibition space and educational facilities was recognized by the Board of Trustees, noting increased population and tourism in the Coachella Valley, in addition to the Museum's growing collections. In 1995 an expansion project was initiated with a gift of $1.5 million and 132 works of art from renowned designer and art collector Steve Chase. The Steve Chase Art Wing and Education Center, also designed by E. Stewart Williams, opened in November 1996. The expansion included 25,000 additional square feet of art galleries, a mezzanine, a sculpture terrace, four classrooms, two art storage vaults and a 90-seat lecture hall. The entire Museum complex now encompasses 124,435 square feet and houses a collection of over 50,000 objects.  Frey House II, an architectural landmark designed by modernist architect Albert Frey, was a bequest to the Museum in 1999, providing a new preservationist role for the institution.
        In 1982 the Museum earned national accreditation from the American Association of Museums. After a two-year process of self-evaluation in 1993/94, the Museum received subsequent accreditation until 2004. PSDM is an institution dedicating to offering exciting new art, natural science, performing arts and educational opportunities for the region and for its national and international visitors in the 21st century.

Highlights & Collections:

Contemporary art, 20th century sculpture, 19th century American art of the West, Native american art.

John Register: Venetian Light. 1977




Admission & Directions:

Admission prices are

For more information call the Palm Springs Desert Museum at 760/325-0189.

The Palm Springs Desert Museum is located at 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs (just west of the Desert Fashion Plaza).

Key Personnel:

Janice Lyle, Executive Director

Barbara Pitts, President, Board of Trustees
Katherine Plake Hough, Director of Collections
Sidney Williams, Director of Education and Programs

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