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Desert Museum Vignettes ASDM Amenities and Memories

Hamburgers, hot dogs, anyone? — ASDM food service beginnings —  1953
Hamburgers, hot dogs, anyone? —
ASDM food service beginnings — 1953
ASDM Food Service — circa 1959
ASDM Food Service — circa 1959
Patio Dining — 1966
Patio Dining — 1966
Ironwood Grill — 2016
Ironwood Grill — 2016
Mountain House Gift Shop — circa 1954
Mountain House Gift Shop — circa 1954
Mountain House Gift Shop — circa 1954
Mountain House Gift Shop — circa 1954
Mountain House Gift Shop — circa 1954
Mountain House Gift Shop — circa 1954
Mountain House Gift Shop — circa 1965
Mountain House Gift Shop — circa 1965
And as a more modern version! Mountain House Gift Shop — 2016
And as a more modern version! Mountain House Gift Shop — 2016
ASDM museum restaurants and gift shops provide 'sustenance' and 'treasures' for Museum guests. They also directly contribute to the Museum -- both financially and through educational opportunities, whether it be reading about your favorite hummingbird or learning about the turquoise in your new necklace.

Amenities aka food and more —

Culinary? Yes, indeed. I had gone out one day soon after we had opened to find that private enterprise in its most basic form had invaded the parking lot. Here was a lunch wagon of the mobile circus variety, busily serving hamburgers and soda to the patrons. I got in line and introduced myself to the proprietors, Pat and Mae Hogan. Although the old Mountain House had once boasted good kitchen facilities, they had deteriorated and were largely displaced by our remodeling - replaced by a can-opener, in effect. So, rather than ejecting this industrious pair, I ate their very good burger and invited them to come down when business permitted and talk the situation over. They were filling an obvious need which we were far too busy to accommodate. per Bill Carr, Pebbles in Your Shoes. 1

Food services at the Desert Museum have come a long way from Bill Carr's days. In 1952 and early 1953 there was no food concession at the Museum - no cold drinks and only one public drinking fountain! In 1953, the Hogan's bus served fast foods and cold drinks, but thereafter the Hogan family began to manage a series of concession locations - one in a separate small building, another inside the main building. In 1994, the Ironwood Terraces Restaurant and Ocotillo Cafe opened. The Museum also now has Phoebe's Coffee Bar, located in the main building, and the Cottonwood, which serves snacks near the Otter Exhibit. The Ironwood Complex was designed by local architect Les Wallach and has received numerous awards, including the Award of Merit from the Arizona Chapter of the American Institute of Architects 2.


Ironwood Terraces Restaurant & Ocotillo Café — circa 1994
Ironwood Terraces Restaurant & Ocotillo Café — circa 1994

And to Remember Us - the Desert Museum Gift Shops

The first gift shop was located on the partially open porch on the south side of the east wing. Merchandise was varied but strong on postcards, small living cactus plants, and poor, dead scorpions and tarantulas permanently entombed in clear plastic paperweights. (The museum soon banned the dead wildlife paperweights.) There was a nice display of quality Papago (Tohono O'odham) baskets.

The Museum Gift Shop has since gone through a major expansion and renovation. It operates the original Mountain House location near the main entrance area. Yes, you can still purchase post cards and living cactus plants, but selections also feature work from Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico. The displays of traditional southwestern jewelry shine alongside the newer contemporary styles. In addition, there is a fine selection of books on the human and natural history of the area, including the Museum's own ASDM Press. The Museum gift shop is known for its extensive selection of Mata Ortiz and Pueblo pottery. The Museum also operates a second gift shop located near the highly acclaimed Ocotillo Café. The southwestern boutique Ironwood gift shop celebrates the work of local artists as well as a variety of handcrafted items from all over the world and is known for its selection of Sabaku clothing 3.


Cacti, books, jewelry and more — 2016
Cacti, books, jewelry and more — 2016
  1. Pebbles in Your Shoes, Bill Carr, Page 130 - 131
  2. ASDM Food Srvices are managed by Rojo Hospitality
  3. ASDM Gift Shops are managed by Jim Hills, Native and Nature
  4. Photography courtesy of ASDM Archives, Kenny Don, and Anne C. Warner

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) Oral History Project is designed to chronicle the history of ASDM. The interviews and collected materials provide an opportunity to capture the memories of museum founders, members, staff, and guests; and to share those memories with Tucson and the conservation community at large.