Permanent Collection

Permanent Collection 2018-08-27T13:32:05+00:00

Permanent Collection

Tohono Chul’s Permanent Collection consists of artworks and artifacts representative of the Nature, Art, and Culture of the Sonoran Desert Region. Ranging from basketry and fiber arts to sculptural works and paintings, works from the Permanent Collection are displayed through our Quarterly “Collection Spotlight” and periodically in our thematic exhibitions.

Many of the sculptural works on the grounds are Permanent Collection items, including work by Mark Rossi, Fred Borcherdt, Ned Egen, and many others on display year-round.


One Tohono O’odham creation story tells the origin of the saguaro thus: long ago, a young boy was left to grow up alone while his mother played toka (field hockey). One day the boy went to find his mother, traveling from one village to the next, crossing the mountains, asking animals for help along the way. When, at last, he found her, she was too busy with her game to come to him. He stood in a tarantula hole and asked the village children to help him sing. With each song, the boy sank deeper into the ground. His mother, having been warned of her son’s fate, ran to him, but arrived too late. He was gone. As it happened, Coyote (Ban) was passing by and told the mother he would rescue her son. Instead, tricky Coyote ate the child and presented the mother with bare bones. From the spot where those bones were buried, the first saguaro grew.

From a very young age, Tohono O’odham children are taught that they must never harm a saguaro; they are reminded that saguaros are people too.

Image: Michael Chiago | Origin of the Saguaro | Commissioned with funding from the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona (formerly the Tucson Pima Arts Council) | 2003.2.3

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