Scottsdale Public Art

Permanent Art

The Museum Heart

Alberto Rios was commissioned to write a poem in celebration of the opening of the new Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.


“I know many poems about things in museums, but few about the museum itself. This writing, then, is a hopeful act of stark public purpose, a poem about museums, museums as themselves, these simple houses that hold and keep our lives, and into whose living rooms we welcome each other.” – Alberto Rios



The Museum Heart


                        We, each of us, keep what we remember in our hearts.

                        We, all of us, keep what we remember in museums.

                        In this way, museums beat inside us.


What we have seen and been fed,

What we have smelled and then wanted,

What hair we have touched

And what hands have touched our own;

What fires have burned red,

What rifles-fire echoes still,

What blue mountains rise

On the horizon’s orange and gray spine;

What day-moon mornings, what June beetled evenings,

Simple heat moving, finally, into simple coolness,

A single long drink of good water,

My mother’s yes, your father’s chin.


            What we remember,

            What we have remembered to keep,

            Where we put what we keep:

            Sometimes in buildings we find

            Pieces of the heart.

            Sometimes in a heart we find

            The shelter of a building.

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