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Find Your Favorite Desert Museum: Palm Springs Edition

by: Welk Resorts | March 26, 2019

When you head to the California desert for a relaxing vacation, the amazing weather and gorgeous scenery aren’t the only things that can make your getaway inspiring. Many visitors spend delightful hours exploring Palm Springs’ vibrant arts and culture scene. Whether you’re traveling on your own or with a group of friends, check out some of these world-class art galleries and other cultural institutions for a unique, art-filled visit as you find your favorite museum in Palm Springs.

Palm Springs Art Museum

Museum in Palm Springs: Palm Springs Art Museum

Photo by TRIO

The Palm Springs Art Museum is the largest of the museums in the area. One of its highlights is the glass exhibit room, which features the work of Dale Chihuly and other incredibly talented glass artists. You should also explore the permanent collections, which feature amazing pieces of Native American art. If you’re more interested in moving works, the film room allows you to sit back and watch artistic works as well as documentaries. For those looking to understand more about the unique mid-century modern feel of Palm Springs, the architecture branch of the museum includes drawings, blueprints, and photographs created by prominent architects such as Richard Neutra, Frank Gehry, and Daniel Libeskind.

Museum in Palm Springs: Palm Springs Art Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum. Photo by AFAR

This downtown art museum in Palm Springs is located at 101 North Museum Drive. Other exhibits in the museum’s permanent collections include contemporary and modern art and Mesoamerican art. On a mild day, be sure to check out the outdoor sculpture garden. It’s the perfect place to finish your morning coffee as you take in the imaginative pieces. You can also stay for lunch in the onsite bistro, which offers sandwiches, wraps, and salads. If you want to take some unique creations home with you, visit the museum’s gift shop and buy works of art that are for sale.

Heather James Fine Art

A very tasteful art gallery you should explore in Palm Springs is Heather James Fine Art at 45188 Portola Avenue. Local artists are featured in this gallery’s exhibits, so you can see the best pieces from a number of up-and-coming artists. The gallery also houses some unexpected works from well-known artists you won’t want to miss. Take a look at the Picasso ceramics or the paintings on canvas by Calder. The airy gallery is well-curated and arranged, so you truly appreciate each individual piece from its collection.

Museum in Palm Springs: work of Lawrence Schiller

A past Lawrence Schiller exhibit. Photo by Lawrence Schiller

Sunnylands Center & Gardens

Museum in Palm Springs: Sunnylands gardens

An overhead view of part of the gardens. Photo by ASLA San Diego

To enjoy the artistic talents of expert gardeners and arborists as well as artists, you can head to the Sunnylands Center & Gardens at 37977 Bob Hope Drive. This gorgeous spot was once the winter home of Ambassadors Walter and Leonore Annenberg who welcomed business, political, education, and entertainment leaders there for more than 40 years. Today, the 200-acre property is preserved for the public to visit and learn about its history and beauty.

This site features an expansive nine-acre outdoor garden with paved pathways where you can take an easy nature walk. The serene landscape offers pops of unexpected color in the desert. The bird walk is a self-guided tour, and audio is available through the center’s app on your smartphone.

Museum in Palm Springs: Sunnylands Center

Mexican art exhibit previously featured at Sunnylands. Photo by Desert Sun

The indoor center offers movies related to nature and art. Indoor exhibits rotate every couple of months and create a one-of-a-kind museum in Palm Springs. Some of their past exhibits have included mid-century modern architecture, post-impressionist paintings, and stunning ceramics.

Museum and garden tours are free, but tickets are required for the tour of the historic house on the site.

CODA

Museum in Palm Springs: CODA

Art by Jesse Kelly and Jamie Perry featured at CODA. Photo by Artsy

CODA fantastic gallery in Palm Springs for collectors and visitors alike. In their relaxed atmosphere, you can take a look at sculptures made from iron, brass, glass, and clay. Their exhibits change on a regular basis, and the gallery features different local artists as well as artists from across the state of California. A wide variety of media is displayed throughout the gallery, giving you the chance to see some unique pieces that are not in the collections of other, more formal museums in Palm Springs.

Museum in Palm Springs: Coda

Artwork by Jeff Faust at CODA. Photo by Artsy

This gallery, located at 73400 El Paseo Boulevard, specializes in selling works of art from mid-career and emerging artists, so you can take your time browsing for a one-of-a-kind souvenir to bring home with you. Advisors at the gallery are happy to share their expertise. They can help you find a single piece, several items, or commission a custom work that matches your ideas, tastes, and personal style.

Leslie Jean Porter

Museum in Palm Springs: Juan-Manuel Alonso

Past exhibitions at the Leslie Jean Porter have featured work by artists like Juan-Manuel Alonso. Photo by Desert Sun

The Leslie Jean Porter is a fine arts and luxury boutique, located at 68703 Perez Road. If you’re looking for a gallery in Palm Springs that offers an eclectic mix of items on display and a relaxed atmosphere, then this is the place for you. Film, paintings, photographs, sculptures, and fabrics are all on display here. If you don’t mind a few risque displays, this is an ideal destination for those who want to enjoy unique works. The gallery even has a Parisian salon theme, which is evident in its approach to showcasing ultra-modern as well as vintage works of art and fashion.

Backstreet Art District

Museum in Palm Springs: Backstreet Art District

Red Dot Gallery in the Backstreet Art District. Photo by Patrick S.

When you’d prefer a relaxed stroll through some informal galleries, visit the Backstreet Art District in Palm Springs. The Backstreet Art District features the open studios of local artists. You can meet the creators and ask what inspires them or inquire about their works. Some of them accept commissioned pieces or offer their items directly for sale during their open hours. You’ll have easy access to view paintings, jewelry, lithography, metal and glass sculptures, drawings, photographs, and mixed media works of art. There are also locally-owned businesses in the Backstreet Art District that offer artistic services, such as framing of canvases to bring home your finished, custom piece.

You can find the Backstreet Art District at 2600 South Cherokee Way. Their days and hours of operation vary, with most of the individual artists offering hours on Friday and Saturday afternoons and evenings.

Elena Bulatova Fine Art

Museum in Palm Springs: Elena Bulatova

A previous exhibition at Elena Bulatova Fine Art. Photo by Elena Bulatova

If you’re in the mood for a bit of whimsy, visit the Elena Bulatova Fine Art. This gallery offers vibrant, eclectic, and fanciful pieces created by local artists as well as artists from across California and the United States. On weeknights and weekend afternoons, the gallery often has items displayed outside. You can also step inside to explore their collections, which include quirky, larger-than-life mixed media pieces. Metal and glass sculptures, colorful paintings, and 3D pieces are all available.

Visit the Elena Bulatova Fine Art gallery at 232 North Palm Canyon Drive. And ask about their art walk events on Thursdays, where some of the artists offer interviews and tours of their works.


There’s nothing more creative and inspiring than spending an afternoon touring a great gallery or museum Palm Springs from this list. To enjoy some luxury while you visit Palm Springs, book a stay at Desert Oasis by Welk Resorts. Our team can help you plan the most artistic escape to enjoy while staying at your home away from home.

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