Press RoomPhoenix Art Museum premieres second in a series of short films celebrating its 60-year history

Phoenix Art Museum premieres second in a series of short films celebrating its 60-year history

Phoenix Art Museum premieres second in a series of short films celebrating its 60-year history
Dec, 04, 2020

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Phoenix Art Museum premieres second in a series of short films celebrating its 60-year history

Supported by a grant from The Steele Foundation, Wish You Were There captures the PhxArt experience for an older couple on a date

PHOENIX (December 4, 2020) –Phoenix Art Museum has released the second film in a three-part series of short films created in honor of the Museum’s 60-year history. The series, made possible through funding provided by The Steele Foundation as part of a Museum initiative to innovate new digital-engagement efforts, was developed by the Museum in collaboration with Arizona-based filmmakers, including local writers, directors, actors, editors, and crew members. The second film in the series, Wish You Were There, premiered online today, two months after The First Time, the series’ first short film, premiered on the Museum’s website. The final film in the series, Represent, will premiere in February.

“We are excited to share this second film, Wish You Were There, and continue our celebration of the stories and community members that have made Phoenix Art Museum a vibrant center of the arts at the heart of our city,” said Tim Rodgers, PhD, the Museum’s Sybil Harrington Director and CEO. “The Museum is grateful to The Steele Foundation for their support of not just our vital operations but efforts like this film series that allow the Museum to more deeply engage with our audiences in innovative and meaningful ways.”

In 2017, Phoenix Art Museum developed a new initiative to innovate and strengthen online engagement with its community. Through the generosity of Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, the Museum developed a new, comprehensive, and fully bilingual website, featuring a mobile-responsive design and custom content in both English and Spanish. The new site launched in March 2020, just prior to the Museum’s extended closure necessitated by COVID-19. The Steele Foundation also provided support for the Museum’s new bilingual site, along with additional funding to support both photography of the Museum’s collection for the institution’s virtual catalogue of artworks and the development of a short-film series.

Initially, Museum staff planned to create a documentary-style film about the history of Phoenix Art Museum. However, as they began their work with Arizona-based filmmakers Chris Heck, Kieran Thompson, and Josh Gonzales, the project grew to reflect the Museum’s long history and deep impact, resulting in not one film but three, the first of which, entitled The First Time, was written as a love letter from the Museum to the community it serves.

The second film, Wish You Were There, tells the story of an older couple on a first date at Phoenix Art Museum as they explore the North Wing galleries. Directed by Kieran Thompson and written by Chris Heck, who directed The First Time, the 10-minute film chronicles the couple’s visit and exposes the power of art to create connection, build individual and collective memories, and spark love, both old and new. The world premiere of Wish You Were There was hosted earlier this year at the Sedona International Film Festival. The film, which was additionally released on Short of the Week and Omeleto today, is also an Official Selection of the Phoenix Film Festival and Arizona Short Film Festival.

Wish You Were There, which premiered today on, offers an intimate glimpse into a common experience we see at the Museum—two people meeting to connect with each other over inspiring art,” said Nikki DeLeon Martin, the Museum’s Chief Marketing and External Affairs Officer, who oversaw the institution’s film-series project and who wrote the series’ first film, The First Time. “Although this narrative film shares the story of an older couple meeting for a date in the Museum, the moments captured in Wish You Were There speak to a more universal experience: the pang of excitement coupled with cautious doubt that inevitably arise while on a first date, and the power of art to create connections no matter how different our life experiences may be.”

The final film in the series, Represent, which was written and directed by Heck and tells the story of a teenager who, on a school field trip, finds a sense of belonging in an unexpected place, will premiere in February on The First Time, the series’ first film, is currently available for viewing here.  

For more information about the film series and Phoenix Art Museum, contact the Museum’s Communications Office at 602.307.2003 or The Phoenix Art Museum short-film series was made possible through the generosity of The Steele Foundation.

About Phoenix Art Museum

Since 1959, Phoenix Art Museum has provided millions of guests with access to world-class art and experiences in an effort to ignite imaginations, create meaningful connections, and serve as a brave space for all people who wish to experience the transformative power of art. Located in Phoenix’s Central Corridor, the Museum is a vibrant destination for the visual arts and the largest art museum in the southwestern United States. Each year, more than 300,000 guests engage with critically acclaimed national and international exhibitions and the Museum’s collection of more than 20,000 works of American and Western American, Asian, European, Latin American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design. The Museum also presents a comprehensive film program, live performances, and educational programs designed for visitors of all ages, along with vibrant photography exhibitions made possible through the Museum’s landmark partnership with the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. To learn more about Phoenix Art Museum, visit, or call 602.257.1880.

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