Keep cool this summer by exploring the wonders of space, art, science and culture at these indoor campus destinations

Flandrau Planetarium Show

The EOS Foundation Planetarium Theatre in the Flandrau Science Center features 146 custom-designed seats and state-of-the-art projection and sound systems for an immersive planetarium experience like no other.

Flandrau Science Center/Nick Letson


With temperatures in Tucson finally topping the 100-degree mark earlier this month, the University of Arizona offers dozens of destinations for those who want to keep cool this summer, both on campus and off whether you have time for a day off with the family, a lunch break, or a just quick stop to rest and recharge.

As with any summertime activities in Southern Arizona, it's important to drink plenty of water, cover up in loose-fitting clothing and, if possible, apply sunscreen before venturing out. Route planning can also help, and there many paths to get across campus that offer a substantial amount of shade along the way.

African American Museum of Southern Arizona 
1303 E. University Blvd.
Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closes at 3 p.m. on Fridays)

Housed on the ground floor of the University of Arizona Student Union Memorial Center, in Room 244, the African American Museum of Southern Arizona opened in early 2023. It features multiple exhibits, including one focusing on the U.S. Army's buffalo soldiers, who played an instrumental role in the expansion of the nation into Arizona and California. It operates It will take a summer hiatus July 3 through 30. Free admission. Reservations are required for guided tours. The museum maintains a strict no-photo, no-video policy. The museum will be closed July 3-30. Admission is free.

interior of mineral museum with displays on exhibit

Located in downtown Tucson, the University of Arizona Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday.

University Communications/Chris Richards

Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum 
115 N. Church Ave., Suite 121
Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (ticket sales end at 3 p.m.)

Located on the first floor of the historic Pima County Courthouse, the 12,000-square-foot museum takes visitors through a geologic chronology of the Earth, displaying more than 2,200 specimens. The pieces of the collection come from all over the world, but it has a specific emphasis on minerals from Arizona and Mexico. It also has the honor of being one of only three museums on the planet that have a sample of the asteroid Bennu, which was obtained by the University of Arizona-led OSIRIS-REx mission. The museum is closed July 2-13.

Arizona State Museum
1013 E. University Blvd.
Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

exterior of red-brick building with grass and walkway in front of it

The oldest and largest anthropological research facility in the Southwest, the Arizona State Museum holds more than 35,000 woven pieces of rare baskets, sandals, cradle boards and mats, as well as cordage and preserved fibers, representing almost every Indigenous basket-making culture in North America.

Jeff Smith/Arizona State Museum

Established in 1893, the museum is the oldest and largest anthropological research facility in the Southwest. As an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, it has a collection of more than 35,000 woven pieces of rare baskets, sandals, cradle boards and mats, as well as cordage and preserved fibers, representing almost every Indigenous basket-making culture in North America. Alongside those world-class core exhibits, this summer's featured exhibit, "Ancient to Modern: Continuity and Innovation in Southwest Native Jewelry," captures how the Indigenous peoples of this region over the millennia not only adorned themselves, but engaged in trade and expressed their identities, cultural beliefs and values through their jewelry. Visit before Aug. 1, when maintenance work will shutter the north building. Adult admission is $8, while people over age 65, active and reserve military with ID, and groups of 10 or more pay $6. Free for ASM members with valid ID; people age 17 and under; University of Arizona CatCard holders; Pima Community College students with valid student ID; and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program card holders.

Center for Creative Photography
1030 N. Olive Road
Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

This summer's featured exhibit, "The Place Where Clouds Are Formed," examines the intersection of spirituality, migration and current and historical policies that have influenced the borderlands of the Sonoran Desert. This work aims to reorient narratives of this place away from geopolitical concerns and toward the genealogical stories and religious and cultural traditions of those who live and migrate here. Runs through Aug. 31. Admission is free.

Coit Museum of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
1295 N. Martin Ave. 
Tours (by appointment only) available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Housed in the Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Center at the R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy, the museum holds a collection of hundreds of thousands of items, including bottles, original drug containers, books, store fixtures, and artifacts from Arizona (circa 1880 to 1950) and elsewhere. Call 520-626-1042 to schedule a free tour.

Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium
1601 E. University Blvd. 
Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A summertime staple in Tucson for decades, Flandrau offers a rotating daily schedule of planetarium and laser light shows and several permanent family-friendly science exhibits. Check the website for showtimes. Adult admission runs $14, while ages 3-15 pay $10. Planetarium shows cost an additional $14 and $10, respectively. Combo tickets, $26 and $18, provide full access. Another option: the $75 family pass, which provides unlimited admission to the exhibits and planetarium shows. Discounts are available for military, seniors, all higher ed students and other students with identification.

Jim Click Hall of Champions 
McKale Memorial Center, 1 National Championship Drive
Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Hall of Champions shows off the accomplishments of the University's 18 intercollegiate sports, with displays centered on outstanding student-athletes, memorable performances and events, and long-held traditions from more than 100 years of Arizona Athletics. Accessible from inside McKale via the mezzanine, or from the University of Arizona Mall, the hall is free to visit.

John E. Greivenkamp Museum of Optics
1630 E. University Blvd.
Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Boasting a remarkable collection of antique and historic telescopes, microscopes, lenses and cameras, the museum focuses on the history and development of the field of optical science and engineering. The specimens represent work by the world's most respected instrument makers from the 18th century to the present. The museum's self-guided tour begins on the third floor of Meinel Optical Sciences. Visitors can enter from the north-facing entrance off the University of Arizona Mall. The tour directs visitors to take the elevator from the third to the eighth floor, then descend to see additional exhibits on the seventh, sixth, fifth and fourth floors. Admission is free.

Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research
1215 E. Lowell St.
Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Smartphone users can enjoy a self-guided audio tour by scanning the signage by each exhibit. Another option is to book a free 90-minute, docent-led tour to learn the basic tenets of dendrochronology, examine specimens and explore the exhibition hall. The distinctive tiered layout and curved glass exterior wall of the first floor of the Bryant Bannister Tree-Ring Building, combined with the soaring feature wall, allow the lab's pieces to be seen from outside the building and also provide many options for showcasing artistic works. No admission fee.

Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter at night

The Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter's popular SkyNights stargazing program guides visitors through a five-hour tour of the night sky.

Cathi Duncan/Lunar and Planetary Laboratory

Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter
9800 E. Ski Run Road, Mount Lemmon
Wednesday through Sunday year-round. Day tours and picnic tours by reservation only; SkyNights StarGazing, 5:30 p.m.

Escape to one of Arizona's "Sky Islands" and discover the wonders of the universe after experiencing one of the most dramatic drives in the West as you wind your way up Catalina Highway to the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, which offers a variety of public educational programs by reservation. Contact the SkyCenter to schedule one of two daytime tour options for groups of 20 or more and ages 7 and up. First, a 90-minute day tour and, weather permitting, solar viewing. The cost is $15 per person or a flat rate of $300 for groups of less than 20 people. The second option includes a picnic lunch for $25 per person or a flat rate of $500 for groups of less than 20. Email the SkyCenter for available dates and times. And mind the monsoon. Storms can cancel visits with little warning. Starting around sunset, the popular SkyNights stargazing program guides visitors through a five-hour tour of the night sky – with binoculars and telescopes – to view planets, galaxies and nebulae. Schedule a spot on a tour on the SkyCenter’s ticketing page. It's $60 for ages 7-17 while 18 and up pay $85.

Richard F. Caris Mirror Laboratory
527 N. National Championship Drive (on the east side of Arizona Stadium)
Summer schedule: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 9 a.m., or by appointment for  groups of 10 or more.

Tours of this facility, one of the University's "crown jewels," actually begin at the historical Steward Observatory, 933 N. Cherry Ave. dome before proceeding to the Mirror Lab itself down the street. Once inside, visitors get to see the unparalleled technology and revolutionary processes creating the next generation of telescopes, which will allow astronomers worldwide to explore deep into outer space and produce cutting-edge scientific research. Visitors must wear closed-toed flat shoes for safety and comfort and must leave behind all water bottles, bags and other items. The 90-minute tours are open to anyone over age 10, but children must be accompanied by an adult. General admission tickets cost $25; the cost is $20 for ages 10 to 17.

University of Arizona Museum of Art

On the second floor of the University of Arizona Museum of Art stands the retablo, or altarpiece, of Ciudad Rodrigo, which consists of several panels depicting religious artwork created from oil paint on wood.

University Communications/Jason Ground

University of Arizona Museum of Art
1031 N. Olive Road
Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Find eight centuries of art and countless artistic styles under one roof at UAMA. Situated in the College of Fine Arts complex on the north side of the University of Arizona campus, the museum offers a year-round schedule of exhibitions, programs and events for visitors of all ages. Currently showing are the. "Kress Collection," 64 European artworks that span the 14th to the early 19th centuries, and "American Art Gallery," an exhibit highlighting works from the UAMA collection of more than 5,000 paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings. The pieces represent the major artistic movements that helped shape the United States during the consequential period between 1925 and 1945, as the country endured the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and World War II. General admission costs $8. It's $6 each for people over age 65 and groups of 10 or more. Members get in free.

University Libraries Special Collections
1510 E. University Blvd.
Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Through Aug. 1, the main gallery in the Special Collections lobby features a temporary exhibit – "Sanctuary: Who Belongs Here?" – that showcases University Libraries' extensive archives from the U.S.-Mexico borderlands with a particular focus on Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. The exhibit reveals how communities have come together to create a thriving multicultural region that has often been at the forefront of global movements for social, economic and environmental justice. The reading room’s permanent exhibit highlights materials from the political collections of Henry F. Ashurst, Ralph Cameron, Dennis DeConcini, Lewis W. Douglas, Gabrielle Giffords, James Kolbe, John R. Murdock, Marcus A. Smith, Morris K. Udall and Stewart Udall. Appointments are not required to visit Special Collections, which is northeast of the Main Library entrance.

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