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Get to Know the Wild Art and Soul of Joshua Tree With These Must-See Art Installations

Written By: Jordan Nishkian
Photographed By: Deanna Nguyen and Jordan Nishkian Joshua Tree Art Installations

Joshua Tree, home of the Joshua Tree National Park and the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had from Joshua Tree Coffee Company, can be described as a quiet, dirt road town that’s perfect for bouldering, stargazing and getting in touch with nature. But what you may not know is that it’s also home to some truly wild art installations. Ready to be wowed? These art destinations are full of everything from trash-to-treasure sculptures to cute and cuddly crocheted curios.

Wander Through the Weird and Wonderful

Noah Purifoy Foundation Outdoor Museum (AKA Noah’s Art)

As out there as it is, Noah’s Art holds a special place in my heart. Not only is it the backdrop to one of my favorite pictures of my boyfriend and me, but there’s something so evocative about the sheer randomness of all the installations here. Located in a remote area almost 15 minutes or so from the main road, you most likely won’t see this Outdoor Museum until you roll up next to it. From there, get ready to be wowed and drawn in by this expansive lot of art installations built from discarded items. There’s really something for everyone here: a theater for the spotlight-seeker, Grecian-esque ‘ruins’ for the archaeologist and even some dark and mysterious rooms for the horror fan. Here are some of my favorite finds from my most recent exploration:

When you first walk up, you’ll come to what I like to call the “Fun-But-Weird Uncle of All Signs.” It doesn’t really make a lot of sense, but you still know what it’s talking about. And really, I couldn’t think of a better welcome sign to set the mood.

Adrian’s Little Theater is a must-visit. Go inside, step up on the stage and do yourself a favor and show off your performing skills. Sure, it won’t be “Twelfth Night” in the Globe, but doing your best jete or challenging your adventure buddy to a quick rap battle is a great way to let loose. What’s the worst thing that could happen? You’re in the middle of a desert!

This air hangar-looking structure has always held some mystery for me as I’ve never seen what’s inside of it. What sort of mysteries does this hangar hold? The chain and padlocked door only add fuel to the fire of my many burning questions, but you have to wonder if that was part of Purifoy’s intentions all along.

An all-time favorite of mine, these “ruins” could make any Greco-Roman history buff grin from ear-to-ear. From its textured interior to its center hearth, you can’t be too sure of what Purifoy’s intentions were, but you can guess at his inspiration. Pay attention to the details engraved on the walls: they’re telling you a story.

This single wall topped with some topsy-turvey bicycles offers a window to the other side of this creation—a stunning view of vast desert. A little bit mind-boggling with a lot of whimsy, this installation makes you wonder what Purifoy imagined to be happening on the other side of that wall.

Joshua Tree Art Installations

It’d Be a Mistake Knot to Go Joshua Tree Art Installations

The World-Famous Crochet Museum

Head into town in Joshua Tree and pull up to a small plaza of shops. Through the gates, you’ll find a towering installation with the only thing I can describe as spinning ‘disco boulders’ and a handful of curio art installations, shops and galleries. The most curious of them all though would have to be The World-Famous Crochet Museum, which lives inside a bright-green one-hour photo booth (bet you forgot about those things, huh?).

On a sunnier day, you could probably enjoy more of a disco ball effect from this installation’s rotating, mirror-plated objects, but the grey desert skies offered more of a subtle sparkle the day I visited. I’d like to think that at night, though, is when it really gets the party started.

It may be small, but the bright green paint of the once-photo booth makes it unmistakable and unmissable. A side view of the World-Famous Crochet Museum is only a small preview of what’s in store on the inside:

Whether you’re a crafter, a crocheter or just plain ol’ curious, The World-Famous Crochet Museum is a must-see. Shari Elf, the founder of the museum doesn’t crochet herself, so all of these items have been crocheted and donated by someone else! Remember, take as many pictures as you want, but don’t touch—a lot of work into making this museum!

Noah Purifoy Foundation Outdoor Museum (AKA Noah’s Art)
62975 Blair Ln
Joshua Tree, CA 92252

The World-Famous Crochet Museum
61855 Hwy 62
Joshua Tree, CA 92252