What a wonderful experience it was to enter the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum and be surrounded by all the beautiful crystals. The lines of school children would ooh and aah as they entered the museum. They were enthralled by the tour guides who showed them the minerals and products made from those minerals.
Unfortunately, that all came to an end in April 30, 2011 when the Arizona Historical Society suddenly shut down the museum. The state legislature had closed the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources, which had managed the museum since its inception in 1947, and turned the museum over to the Arizona Historical Society.
This website is an historical record of the exhibits and activities that took place while the museum was a ‘rockin’ place. Volunteers from the associated mineral, lapidary, and prospecting clubs provided 10,000 hours of work per year. The volunteers had lots of fun helping with the children’s activities on Family Days and Prospector Days. They also felt great satisfaction seeing the results of their labors in upgrading the exhibits and running the historic mining machinery. Photographs of these activities are shown in the Volunteer Activities and Past Events tabs.
The museum had over 3,100 minerals, crystals, rocks, and fossils on display in the donated mineral cases. A photographic record of these specimens (about 1/3 of which were on loan) is shown under the Galleries tab, which is subdivided according to the number on the more than 100 exhibit cases. The first and very popular cases showcased gold specimens, as there are many historic gold mines in Arizona. The mineral in the cases were arranged according to their chemistry in the Dana system, which starts with elements (with gold, silver, platinum, and diamond specimens), and proceeds through sulfides, oxides, sulfates, and so on. This on display collection was backed up by about 20,000 minerals, rocks, micromounts, and artifacts in storage cabinets in the basement.
Educational products of the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum included teacher kits and workshops. Each Arizona teacher was able to pick up a kit of 40 numbered rocks and minerals plus the identification key and various activity booklets and CDs. These were tremendously appreciated by the thousands of teachers and students who used these for laboratory activities in their classrooms. The booklet on how to identify rocks and minerals is reproduced under the Education tab.
Other tabs include those for the Clubs that met at the Museum and provided volunteers, along with their current web sites.
The staff and volunteers are pictures under the Personnel tab.
The traveling tour guide and activities are shown under the Outreach activities.
Photographs of the tempting array of small mineral and rock samples, inexpensive jewelry, minerals and artistic items that were for sale in the Gift Shop are shown under the Gift Shop tab. Lapidary Shop tab shows photographs of people learning how to operate the machinery and make their own cabochons and other jewelry.
The Museum History tab shows photographs of the museum when it was at the State Fairgrounds on McDowell Road, as well as photographs of the move in 1991 to the former El Zaribah Shriners Building on Washington.
Please click on image to enlarge.