The West Valley Museum of Art, which today is located at Peoria City Hall, was originally created by several Sun Cities residents intent on creating the first free-standing professional art museum in a retirement community. The Sun Cities Art Museum, its original name when it incorporated in 1980, was initially to be built at the corner of Thunderbird Boulevard and Emerald Drive in Sun City. That land was eventually traded for property in Surprise — between Sun City and Sun City West — near what was originally intended to be an Arizona State University westside campus. The facility opened in 1984 and was later expanded. For many years, it sat as the only structure constructed between Sun City and Coyote Lakes, and clearly visible from Bell Road. Its prominence led to the city renaming the street “Avenue of the Arts.” The name was later changed to the Sun Cities Museum of Art, and eventually West Valley Museum of Art to reflect the interests of the larger, West Valley audience. The museum faced mounting financial challenges and was forced to close in 2009 and move to Peoria in 2010.Today, the building at 17420 N. Avenue of the Arts is home to the Sun Cities West Valley Corps of the Salvation Army.
Archive photos courtesy of the Sun Cities Area Historical Society. Current photo by Bret McKeand/Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA
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