Expert’s Guide to the Arizona Museum of Natural History | Visit Mesa

Arizona Museum of Natural History

Step into Arizona’s premier natural history museum to be transported through time to the era of dinosaurs and learn about ancient civilizations from throughout Arizona’s history.

Nestled in the heart of Downtown Mesa, the 80,000-square-foot Arizona Museum of Natural History offers plenty to see, learn and explore for dino enthusiasts and historians of all ages. Admire their collection of nearly 60,000 objects, snap a selfie with a T-Rex, pan for gold, discover the origins of the galaxy, and take a stroll through a mock village of our ancestral Sonoran Desert people at this popular Mesa attraction.

Known for its impressive collection of prehistoric fossils and bones, as well as its dedication to highlighting and interpreting the region’s native cultures and peoples, the Arizona Museum of Natural History is also home to ongoing anthropological and paleontological research and studies, as highlighted in the new exhibit, Ologies. The museum also oversees the nearby Mesa Grande Cultural Park (open October through May), the site of Hohokam structures dating back to 1100-1400 AD.

Top Exhibits & Experiences

Dinosaurs, ancient civilizations, hands-on activities, cosmic history, and plenty of time traveling greets visitors to the Arizona Museum of Natural History. Read on for a few of the top exhibits and experiences we’d recommend seeking out while visiting.

Cenozoic Lobby

As you enter the museum, you will notice a collection of animals from the Pliocene-Pleistocene Epochs, approximately 3 million years to 10,000 years ago. These specimens include a Columbian mammoth, American mastodon, a one-toed Hagerman Horse and several fossil turtle species, as well as an American lion, a Diatryma, and an intimidating set of 8-foot-wide megalodon jaws you can walk beneath.

A child in a tie-dyed shirt takes a photo of a large mammoth skeleton in the lobby of the Arizona Museum of Natural History.

Dinosaur Hall

A favorite among amateur and junior paleontologists, the Dinosaur Hall with examples of magnificent creatures from throughout history like Theropods, Sauropods, Ceratopsians and more. Look for a full skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, a skull of a Tyrannosaurus rex, a Triceratops, and the towering Camarasaurus, among other prehistoric beasts.

Dinosaur Mountain

At Dinosaur Mountain, visitors can also see and hear the great dinosaurs of the Mesozoic Era come to life by way of life-size animatronic animals. To simulate some of the perilous encounters faced during these ancient beasts, every 23 minutes a “flash flood” will send rushing water cascading down this three-story mountain.

75,000,000 B.C.

Discover how plate tectonics and other geological events formed the magnificent Arizona landscape we all know today in one of the museum’s newest exhibits. Here visitors are transported back to southern Arizona and northern Sonora as they would’ve appeared over 75 million years ago for a glimpse of an ancient world teeming with volcanoes, dinosaurs and other creatures.

Two young children look at a triceratops dinosaur skeleton inside the Arizona Museum of Natural History.


Voyage through the timeline of the cosmos and discover major events in the history of planet Earth. Get up close and touch meteorites, including a piece of the Canyon Diablo Meteorite that formed Arizona’s Meteor Crater over 50,000 years ago.

Arizona Through Time

From the origins of the universe, take a walk through time in this exhibit as it chronicles the formation of rocks and minerals to the origins of life. Explore Paleozoic seas, view skeletons of mammal-like reptiles, learn about the Triassic inhabitants of northern Arizona’s petrified forests, dive into Cretaceous seas that once covered parts of the state, and uncover more of Arizona’s unexpected history.

Native Cultures of Western North America

Explore the traditions, cultures and lifestyles of dozens of Native American peoples from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, from Alaska to Mexico, as told through objects of material culture and artwork. View textiles, ceramics, leatherwork and other items from Southwest peoples such as the Navajo, Apache, Hopi, O’odham, and Hualapai, learn about the Hupa/Yarok/Karuk peoples of the Pacific Coast, and view items from Eskimo, northern Athabascan, Cheyenne and Sioux peoples.

Athapascan Way

Delve deeper into Native American cultures as you learn more about the Navajo and Apache as they entered the Southwest from northwestern North America perhaps as early as A.D. 1400. Here, view artifacts such as Apache hoops and traditional Gaan dance attire, a Navajo rug, and historical photographs.

A young girl pans for gold in a stream outside of the Arizona Museum of Natural History.

Fun with Arizona History

Trace Arizona’s history from the initial arrival of Spanish conquistadors and priests to its more modern movie moments through this interactive and immersive exhibit. Walk through a recreation of the early 18th century Spanish Guevavi mission, Arizona’s early days as a U.S. territory, and discover the driving forces behind the state’s early economy with hands-on activities, like panning for “gold” outdoors at the History Courtyard.

Exploration Station

Designed for the museum’s youngest visitors in mind, here children ages 6 and under — along with their caregivers — can engage with the museum via a variety of activities. Let creativity soar as you design a new dinosaur while learning about adapting to habitats, build a replica Nothronychus nest, relax and read one of several natural history-themed books, and study fossils in the Paleontology Lab.


Don’t forget to visit the Museum Store to complete your museum experience. The gift shop is stocked with unique (and tax-free) souvenirs to commemorate your visit, such as t-shirts, dinosaur toys, minerals, replica fossils and much more. The best part? Proceeds from the store support the museum, as well as its exhibitions and educational programs.

A young boy and a caretaker look at a triceratops dinosaur skeleton inside Dinosaur Hall at the AZ Museum of Natural History.

IBCCES Autism Certification

The Arizona Museum of Natural History is one of many attractions in Mesa that is an Autism Certified Center, meaning that the staff underwent training through IBCCES (International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards) to better accommodate those in the ASD community.

Throughout the Museum, you will notice sensory guides posted on the walls. The guides will let guests know how high or low the sensory stimulation is to each sense in the exhibit they are entering. Headphones and sensitivity glasses will also be available at the visitors service desk upon entrance.

A digital version of the sensory guides on display throughout the Arizona Museum of Natural History.

To learn more about the museum’s other accessibility initiatives, click here.

To learn more about Mesa’s status as the first-ever Autism Certified City in the U.S., click here.

Location, Hours & Admission

The Arizona Museum of Natural History is located one block north of Main Street in downtown Mesa at 53 N Macdonald, Mesa, AZ 85201. There is ample parking available on the street as well as within free parking areas around the museum.

The museum is open:

  • Tuesday-Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Sunday: Noon-5 p.m.

The museum is closed Mondays and on all federal and city holidays.

Tickets are available for purchase both in person upon arrival as well as in advance online. Current admission is:

  • $13 for Adults
  • $7 for Children ages 3-7
  • Free for Children 0-2 years old
  • $10 for Seniors
  • $8 for Students with ID

Frequently Asked Questions

How much are tickets to the Arizona Museum of Natural History?

Current admission prices are as follows:

  • $13 for Adults
  • $7 for Children ages 3-7
  • Free for Children 0-2 years old
  • $10 for Seniors
  • $8 for Students with ID

What else is there to do near the Arizona Museum of Natural History?

The Arizona Museum of Natural History’s convenient location in downtown Mesa puts visitors within walking distance of many other top attractions and experiences. Notable options include the interactive and very kid-friendly i.d.e.a. Museum and Mesa Arts Center, as well as performance venues such as the Mesa Amphitheatre and Nile Theatre.

What restaurants are nearby the Arizona Museum of Natural History?

Visitors will find a wealth of dining options within walking distance from the Arizona Museum of Natural History. Kids will delight at the sweet scoops available at Novel Ice Cream, directly behind the museum, and all ages can savor the local flavors that line Main Street, including Downtown Rendezvous, Mango’s Mexican Café, and Tacos Chiwas. For a full list of Mesa restaurants, click here.