Best Museum

Tucson Museum of Art

READERS' PICK: Through turmoil and controversy, the TMA perseveres. And it not only survives, it thrives.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Tucson Children's Museum, 200 S. Sixth Ave.

OF MYTHIC PROPORTIONS: Mr. K's BBQ and Afro-American Heritage Museum, 1834 S. Park Ave. At first it seems only one small room of the building is devoted to the Heritage Museum and the rest is full of a bunch of old junk. However, Mr. K., the museum's owner, curator and tour guide, explained its relevance saying that all American history is African American history as well. Mr. Kendricks called the building into being starting in 1964; the labor took five years. Originally it was intended to be a neighborhood pharmacy where he could ply his trade. Nearly 40 years later, his son runs the barbecue, open Tuesdays through Saturdays 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., while Mr. K spends his Fridays and Saturdays operating the museum. He also puts his artistic talents to use making welded steel sculptures depicting pivotal moments in black history. The oldest document in the museum is a 150-year-old chattel mortgage, a sort of yearly inventory of all the slaves owned by a particular white master. You'll also see a picture of Tucson Cpl. Isaiah Mays, a Buffalo Soldier in the 19th century Indian wars, whose formerly unmarked grave in Phoenix was finally honored this last May with a headstone commemorating him as a winner of the Medal of Honor for bravery. And everyone recognizes Hattie McDaniels, who became the first minority actor to win an Oscar when she played Mammy, Scarlett's maid, in Gone With the Wind.

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