The Palm Spring Art Museum is an officially designated Rancho Mirage HOT SPOT. In 2010 guests staying at Rancho Mirage resorts receive a VIP Access Privilege Card that provide adult admission discounts at four Palm Springs Valley HOT SPOT attractions.

Just so you know – I’m crazy about museums. Make a point to stop in at any museum I encounter and I’ve encountered a lot in all corners of the world. For fourteen years of my career I was the director of a contemporary art museum. OK, OK – full disclosure – I have a masters degree in painting, maintain a studio and I’m married to an artist.

So you can imagine my delight when I first walked into the Palm Springs Art Museum and discovered what a cool place it is. Housed in an art brut masterpiece by E. Stewart Williams the 150,000 square foot complex presents a rich diversity of temporary exhibitions and collections that focus primarily on international modern and contemporary art. Your Dog by Yoshitomo Nara looms in the lobby and immediately you know you’re in for a treat. Highlights include the beautifully installed contemporary glass collection that includes dazzling works by Karen LaMonte, Lynda Benglis, Claire Falkenstein and of course the ubiquitous Dale Chihuly. The contemporary art collection awes with recent acquisitions that any museum would covet including signature works by Anselm Kiefer, Nam June Paik, Louise Bourgeois, Anish Kapoor, Teresita Fernandez, Antony Gormley and many other firebrands that mix beautifully with pieces by such giants as Warhol, Johns, Stella, Rauschenberg and Rosenquist. Search for a fabulous Llyn Foulkes work somewhat miscast in the Western Art collection. California blue-chippers abound in the vast collection that rotated on display, including eye popping examples of Robert Bechtle, Robert Arneson, Nathan Oliveira, Viola Frey, Stephen De Staebler, Manuel Neri and on and on and on… And then there’s a rich vein of California modernists to explore that predate the euphoric 60s, 70s and 80s that includes excellent examples of paintings by Lee Mullican, Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg.

The museum’s large sculpture collection can be enjoyed in a stunning desert garden as well as strategically positioned throughout the complex. Search for an amusing Duane Hanson and at the opposite end of the esthetic spectrum a heroic Mark Di Suvero. American Western Art, a Mexican and Latin American collection, a huge collection of American Photography, a Mesoamerican collection all add to a wonderful mix to discover, ponder and enjoy. The American Modern Architecture collection boasts the Albert Frey and E. Stewart Williams archives.

The Annenberg Theater at the museum hops with sophisticated performance art programs. Lectures and symposiums pack the house. There are classes and exhibition tours for all age groups. The shop is fun and the cafe yum. The opening parties are mobbed. It’s a not-to-be-missed scene and a fave TOP SPOT of the desert cool crowd.

RM