The Museum of Northern Arizona is one of Flagstaff’s treasures and the “Gateway to the Colorado Plateau”
Founded in 1928 as a community effort by a group of Flagstaff citizens, the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) is a private, nonprofit institution that was originally established as a repository for Native American artifacts and natural history specimens from the Colorado Plateau. The original founders, zoologist Dr. Harold S. Colton and artist Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton, were dedicated to preserving the history and cultures of northern Arizona.
The museum’s mission 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.”
Visitors to the museum can see wonderful, interpretive displays of the geological, biological and biotic history of the region. An assortment of fossil fish and sharks, as well as a variety of invertebrates and plants, along with a plesiosaur skeleton, are all on display, many in a hands-on way. The formation of the San Francisco Peaks and the entire Colorado plateau region are depicted in models and interactive audio-visual installations.
MNA holds an extensive collection of Native American artifacts, natural science specimens and fine art pieces. Casual visitors get a look at a broad interpretation of these in various galleries, however more than five million artifacts are held in repositories on a 200-acre campus dedicated to research and preservation. Among more than 40 buildings on the campus, the Easton Collection Center was dedicated in 2009, a 17,000 square foot building dedicated to housing collection objects in the best possible environment for preservation.
MNA actively conducts research across the Colorado Plateau region in the fields of anthropology, biology, fine art, geology and paleontology, and Native cultures.
The Museum of Northern Arizona is located at 3101 N. Fort Valley Road in Flagstaff, and is open year-round. (928) 774-5213.