Museums, Zoo and Gardens
 
Sun City residents are lucky to have nearby access to two major museums, many smaller but very interesting museums, an 1,800 acre Zoo rated as one of the 10 best zoos in the U.S and numerous parks and gardens including the famous Annenberg estate, Sunnylands which has hosted eight US Presidents.

Palm Springs Art Museum – is an architecturally dramatic and innovative Art Museum located in downtown Palm Springs where its 75,000-square-foot building also contains the 430-seat, state-of-the-art Annenberg Theater. The museum offers rotating exhibits from its extensive permanent collection which includes significant works by western, contemporary and glass artists, and features temporary exhibitions from internationally acclaimed artists. The Museum’s modern and contemporary collection contains approximately 3,000 sculptures, paintings and prints, 2,000 fine art photographs, and another 40,000 negatives, contact sheets and other photo-based objects. The museum’s dynamic collection of contemporary art since 1960 places special focus on artists from California alongside artists working throughout the United States and internationally.
The Museum has three locations:
The main museum described above which showcases its extensive collections and travelling exhibits.
The Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center - the country’s first historic structure to be transformed into a free-standing architecture and design museum housed in a modern building.  The 13,000 square foot building was designed by renowned mid-century modern architect E. Stewart Williams. It features a glass pavilion space that showcases changing architecture and design exhibitions.
The Palm Springs Art Museum - Palm Desert and Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden - Opened in March 2012, this distinctive campus in Palm Desert offers ongoing and temporary exhibitions of sculpture, painting, photography and new media. Featuring several gallery areas it is home to changing exhibitions that both stand alone and complement the museum’s main Palm Springs location. The 8,400 square-foot environmentally friendly building (Silver LEED Certified) is surrounded by a two-acre, lushly landscaped sculpture garden housing the works of modern and contemporary masters such as Di Suvero, Gold and Judd.

Palm Springs Air Museum - is a non-profit educational institution and home to one of the world’s largest collections of flyable WWII Airplanes. In addition to flying aircraft, related artifacts, artwork and library sources are used to perpetuate American history.
The significance of WWII is unparalleled in all of the history of the world in that it was the greatest, most costly conflict ever fought, taking the lives of more than 70 million people. It was Air Power that altered the outcome of that war and forever changed the lives of every person alive today. During your visit to the Air Museum you can enjoy: • 46 Vintage Warbirds -  some Flyable • Tour through a flyable B-17 bomber • Watch a movie in the Buddy Rogers Theater • Test your skill on flight simulators • Visit the unique gift shop • The Berger Foundation Youth Exploration Center • WWII Educational Resource Library • The Freedom Fighter Cafe • Take actual Warbird Rides… fly around the valley in a vintage warbird.

Historical Society of Palm Desert's Museum - Housed in Palm Desert's first fire station (1949), featuring a 1973 fire engine, and displaying a fascinating collection of historical photos, newspaper and magazine archives, as well as oral history on the early settlers of Palm Desert. Prominently displayed on the walls are breath-taking aerial views from the 1940s thru the 1980s of Palm Desert and the surrounding majestic mountains. Also pictures and history of when General George Patton had his Motor Pool on Portola Avenue in Palm Desert during the 1940s. The Motor Pool supported the training of troops prior to battling the Germans in North Africa during WWII.

Coachella Valley History Museum - is a historical campus which contains the 1926 adobe Smiley-Tyler House - housing its main exhibits - the historic 1909 Indio Schoolhouse and the world's only Date Museum.  Other highlights include a Desert Submarine, a Blacksmith's shop, pioneer farming implements and the archives for the Historical Society.  Also, the spacious grounds hold a variety of gardens which include a Memorial Date Garden, Japanese Garden, the Geissler Rose Garden, the Jardin del Desierto (Desert Garden)  and the Liberty Tree - the oldest Cork Tree in the Coachella Valley.

La Quinta Museum – housed in a two-story Spanish Colonial Revival style building has two floors filled with historical and cultural displays. Their exhibits and galleries feature a variety of items like artifacts, newsprints, and more. The first gallery showcases the early history of the city with dioramas of the Cahuilla Indians Village and native animals. It also features old photographs of the very first resorts like The Desert Club and La Quinta Hotel. The second gallery has a series of revolving exhibits.

Agua Caliente Cultural Museum – is set to reopen in its new expanded location in 2020. The new museum is intended as a home to celebrate the history, culture and modern times of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. In addition, the project site is the home of the Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Spring.

Cabot's Pueblo Museum - This historic house museum, a marvel of engineering and design, is a large, Hopi-style pueblo containing artworks, artifacts of American Indian and Alaska Native cultures, and memorabilia of early desert homesteader life. The Hopi-inspired building is hand-made and created from reclaimed and found materials from throughout the Coachella Valley. Much of the Pueblo is made from adobe-style and sun-dried bricks Cabot made himself in the courtyard. The Pueblo has four stories, is 5,000 square feet and includes 35 rooms, 150 windows, 30 rooflines, and 65 doors. In 1913 Cabot Abram Yerxa claimed his homestead of 160 acres. In need of water, he dug a well near his home and discovered hot mineral water right outside his door. 600 yards away he dug another well and discovered the pure cold water of the Mission Springs Aquifer.

General Patton Memorial Museum - located in Chiriaco Summit, 30 miles east of Indio is a tribute to the life of General George S. Patton. He trained over One million men here at the Desert Training Center in preparation for war in Africa. He needed a place that simulated African conditions and landscape so the desert was a great choice. Through its exhibits, tank yard and tank pavilion the museum recalls the chain of events from Patton’s early years to the Great War, into World War II and captures the stories and feeling of General Patton and the soldiers that trained here in the desert.

Ruddy's General Store Museum – take a travel back in time to America’s best preserved collection of American material cultural from nearly a century ago full of pristine products of America’s 1930s. Everything is displayed in original boxes and tins, and presented in period display cases.

Palm Springs Historical Society - Located in downtown in The Village Green Heritage Center in a lovely park-like setting amid the hotels, shops and restaurants of legendary Palm Canyon Drive is the Palm Spring Historical Society including two 19th century pioneer homes, The McCallum Adobe and Miss Cornelia White's "Little House"

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens – Rated one of the 10 best zoos in the U.S. by Condé Nast Traveler. Located in Palm Desert, The Living Desert is a unique zoo and botanical garden that specializes in the deserts of the world. Giraffes, mountain lions, zebras, and cheetahs are just a few of the incredible animals that take you from Africa to North America. The botanical gardens include geographic replicas of areas as diverse as Baja California’s Viscaino Desert and the exotic deserts of Madagascar. Stop by the interactive Discovery Center, visit one of the largest G-scale model train displays, enjoy a Wildlife Wonders animal presentation, hike the nature trails, have lunch in one of the cafes, or pet the goats in the Petting Kraal or even feed a giraffe. Let the shuttles take you from African Village WaTuTu, to the state-of-the-art Wildlife Hospital. The Living Desert offers an experience like no other.

Moorten Botanical Garden - near the Indian Canyons, has more than 3,000 varieties of desert plants that can be viewed and marveled at, including prickly pears, agaves, and cacti. In addition, visitors can check out Indian artifacts and rock, crystal, and wood forms. Moorten Botanical Garden was established in 1938 by Patricia and Chester "Cactus Slim" Moorten, and remains a family-owned and operated botanical garden. The garden doesn’t take itself too seriously—kitschy knickknacks mingle with the plants, and a sign directs you to the “World’s First Cactarium”—a made-up term for the greenhouse. The intimate garden also features a nursery that sells plants similar to those featured throughout.

Sunnylands - For more than 40 years, Ambassadors Walter and Leonore Annenberg famously hosted presidents, heads of state, royals and celebrities at Sunnylands, their 200-acre winter home in Rancho Mirage. Eight U.S. presidents, including Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Clinton, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama visited the estate. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited for lunch, and Prince Charles and U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher were also visitors.
The Annenberg’s 25,000-square-foot midcentury modern house and grounds of the estate are available for paid tours and the Sunnylands 17,000-square-foot Center and its Gardens are open to visitors free of charge. Visitors to the Center & Gardens enjoy sculpture from the Sunnylands Collection as well as a rotating exhibition. There is a film and other offerings about the history of Sunnylands and its founders, Walter and Leonore Annenberg. The Cafe offers light lunch items and unparalleled mountain and garden views. 70 species of native and arid-adapted plants from North and South America, Africa, and the Mediterranean are displayed in the 9-acre Gardens.

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