Monday, September 3, 2012

We Call It PAM

Are you having a wonderful Labor Day? We are having another quiet day at home, mostly avoiding the extreme heat and humidity.
The clouds are so lovely, but the humidity adds to a seriously uncomfortable heat index.

Yesterday we went to the Phoenix Art Museum – the PAM! – to take advantage of someone else’s air conditioning for once. There are always good reasons to go to an art museum: the changing exhibits, the multitude of different art forms, and creative inspiration are some of my reasons. The PAM also has nice gardens and a good restaurant. It all makes for an excellent afternoon or weekend activity.

I just discovered another wonderful thing about the museum, and that is that there are several ways to get in free. When I decided to change my economic status from “retired” to "unemployed” (facing the fact that my nest egg was nearly gone), I realized that I would have to entertain myself more cheaply than I ever thought possible. I sadly cancelled all my subscriptions and memberships and gave up my more costly activities, and became an aficionado of things that are free. A free entrance to the museum is a big win for me!

As always, I enjoyed something new and unexpected. One of the smallest exhibits was called The Politics of Place, Latin American Photography, Past & Present. Works by sixteen artists depict revolution and violence, decay and corruption, as well as work, faith, and humor. The piece that I found most interesting and beautiful was Requiem NN by Juan Manuel Echavarria.
NN stands for no name, for the people killed in Colombian drug massacres and dumped in the Magdalena River. Some of the corpses are “rescued” by local people and given individual tombs, which are then decorated and cared for as if the deceased were family members. These are the tombs that Echavarria photographed.

The magic of this piece is in the lenticular photos. They look like one thing when you approach straight on, and they change to another image when you move to one side or the other. Here’s a link to Echavarria’s site where you can watch a simulation of the effect. I think it was an incredibly effective way to draw viewers to the piece and get them to stand there long enough for the idea of all the lost, nameless dead to really sink in.

Photos were not allowed in most of the exhibits inside the museum, but I took a few shots in the outdoor sculpture garden. 
Tumbling Woman, Eric Fischl

Five Dancing Figures, Magdalena Abakanowicz

We ended our visit with a delicious lunch in the museum café, and headed home feeling quite cultured and sophisticated.


Here are some ways to see the Phoenix Art Museum for free:
  • On certain Wednesdays and Fridays they have free admission in the evenings. See the schedule here.
  • If you have a Phoenix Library card, you can get a seven-day Culture Pass for free museum admission for two people. See here for requirements.
  • If you have a Bank of America card you can get one free admission to each of several area museums (in several states) for free, every month. See here for all US locations and monthly schedule.
  • And finally, many local employers offer free or discounted access to museums, gardens, and zoos as part of their benefit package.

If you live elsewhere, this should at least give you some ideas of how you might get free admission to your local museums.



  1. What a wonderful afternoon you enjoyed! You are so lucky to have P.A.M. to enjoy! Hopefully the humidity will lessen, better yet, disappear! Happy Labor Day!

  2. Thankfully, entrance by voluntary donation is the norm for all the major museums and galleries here with only the special exhibitions being ticketed. No doubt this is something else under threat. We'd better make the most of it while we can.
    We tend to use public spaces for their central heating rather than the air con in the UK! Hope your weather cools a bit for you soon.