The Arizona Mineral Museum began as a Territorial Fair exhibit in 1884. It was so popular that in 1917 the Arizona State Legislature authorized funding to construct a mineral building on the State Fairgrounds. It was completed in 1919 with additional funds raised by the mining companies of Arizona. Excepting a hiatus for World War II, this building was home to annual Territorial and then State Fair exhibits until 1953 (and closed the rest of the year). In 1953 six of the State's major mining companies agreed to underwrite the opening of a year-round Museum to be housed in the Mineral Building.
There are over 3,000 minerals on exhibit. Highlighting the collection are the colorful minerals from Arizona's copper mines. Among the spectacular individual specimens on display are an eight-foot piece of native copper, a large quartz geode - each half weighing 240 pounds, rocks from the first Moon landing, and a fragment of Meteor Crater's meteorite weighing 206 pounds. Exhibits of special interest encompass cases devoted to the lapidary arts featuring gemstones, carved semi-precious bowls and spheres, well-known Arizona specimen localities, and fluorescent minerals.
The museum also exhibits the mineral collection of the Arizona Mineral and Mining Museum Foundation and the Mofford Gallery consisting of about 1000 items acquired by former Secretary of State and Governor Rose Mofford during her 51 years of government service.
Prominently displayed outside is the 43-foot tall Boras mine head frame, moved to Phoenix from Bisbee, Arizona. It has been placed along with an 1882 baby-gauge steam train locomotive from Phelps Dodge's Morenci mine. A mucker car and ore car have been set on rail in the front yard and shortly a 19-foot tall 5-stamp mill will be added to the historic mining equipment. Contemporary open pit mining is represented by a 13 foot diameter tire from a 320 ton capacity mine haul truck and a 27 cubic yard bucket from an electric shovel.
The gift shop features mineral specimens, with a large selection of Arizona minerals and many items specially priced for students. Also offered for sale are jewelry, specialty rock items such as bookends, prospecting tools like gold pans, and books on mineralogy, geology and mining. Proceeds from sales go to support the education and other programs. The Museum hosts about 18,500 pre-school through college students per year on field trips. Each student may leave with 3 specimens selected from a special display. Yearly, the Museum provides about a 1000 Teachers' Mineral Kits and educational packets to Arizona teachers.
Admission: Admission for adults is $2.00. Parking is free.
Hours: Open weekdays from 8:00 to 5:00 and on Saturdays from 11:00 to 4:00.
Address: 1502 W. Washington
Come visit us in Phoenix, Arizona