AZ Museums

AZ Museums

Photo credit: Quartz Crystals in the UA Mineral Museum

Pinal Geology and Mineral Museum

The Pinal Geology and Mineral Museum opened in 2015 and is managed by the Pinal Gem and Mineral Society. It is located in The Artisian Village of Coolidge and has varying hours of operation.

U of A Mineral Museum

The University of Arizona mineral museum features high quality mineral specimens from around the word with emphasis on Arizona and Mexico.  The collection began in 1982, when it was a display in the Territorial Museum in Tucson. Today the collection includes over 25,000 different specimens of 15,561 different mineral species. It is now located in the first level of the Flandrau Science Center (planetarium) on the UA campus. The museum is usually open seven days a week, but only for limited hours as posted on its website.

Desert Caballeros Western Museum, Wickenburg, AZ

This is not a mineral museum, but it has an excellent gem and mineral gallery that is well word stopping to see on a trip to and near Wickenburg, AZ.

Bullion Plaza Cultural Center and Museum, Miami, AZ

Not a mineral museum, but it is a museum in a historic mining town that has mining artifacts of interest. It does have a small mineral gallery. Worth a stop if traveling through Globe-Miami on Highway 60.

Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum

Not a mineral museum, but a mining and history museum in one of Arizona’s great old mining towns. The copper mines around Bisbee produced incredible mineral specimens that are highly prized around the world. A tour of the old Queen Mine is also available in Bisbee.

Hall of Minerals – Virtual Geology Museum – Cochise College

This website features high quality photos of Bisbee copper minerals. It also has other excellent mineral photos indexed apathetically and by chemical group. That, plus a complete 367 page mineralogy textbook by Hilary Bauerman make it a helpful reference tool. Additional features include a lecture on how to identify minerals and a fluorescent mineral display.

Cave Creek Museum

The Cave Creek Museum has on display the pre-history and history of the north desert foothills. It was opened in 1970, but actually started as a Historical Society in 1968. The Museum took form when land was donated by Frank and Hazel Wright, and the old Episcopal Church was relocated to the present museum site.

Inside the museum there are two major sections.

The Archaeology Wing provides dramatic displays that explore the complexities of the ancient cultures that inhabited the area from approximately the year zero to the present.

The Museum’s Historic Collection is made up of the Pioneer Wing and auditorium exhibits. The Pioneer Wing features artifacts from Cave Creek’s mining, military, settler and ranching days. The auditorium display includes textiles, oil paintings, jewelry and sculptures.

Outside the museum is the old Episcopal Church already mentioned, a Tubercular Cabin, a garden and the Golden Reef 10-Stamp mill.
The Tubercular Cabin was built in the early 1920s, and was one of several along Cave Creek Road and moved to the museum site in 2001. The dry climate, combined with rest, was the only treatment known for those suffering lung diseases. The Tubercular Cabin is listed in the National Register of Historic Places in Arizona.

The grounds of the museum include a garden that is host to a number of classic vegetation of the Sonoran Desert, from the majestic saguaro cactus to Santa Cruz prickly pear. There is also an old mining arrastre.

The 10-stamp mill from the Golden Reef Mine was recently added to the outside exhibits. This is a large mining machine that crushes quartz to remove the rich gold from the ore. The museum is located in the Cave Creek Mining District. One of the major mining activities in the District was at the Phoenix Mine where a 100 stamp mill was constructed. The Golden Reef mine is located on Continental Mountain and is where the 10-stamp mill was operated for a short period of time in the early 1900’s. Over the years the mill had deteriorated and all that was left were the metal parts when it was donated to the museum in 2009. A restoration was immediately started and was completed in November 2013. The stamp mill presently runs on a monthly basis from October through May. The process includes a primary jaw crusher that reduces the gold ore down to 2” minus. The ore is transported from the crusher via a skip ore cart to the stamp mill ore bins, then to feeders and into the mortar boxes. The 1,000 lb. stamps in the mortar box act like a mortar and pestle and crush the ore down to the consistency of sand and liberate the free milling gold. The gold concentrates proceed to the sluice tables where some of the gold is separated then to a shaker table where more gold is separated. The pictures below show the stamp mill in the 1960’s, then at the museum in 2009 and the restored stamp mill in 2013.

Guest post by Charlie Connell (

Stamp Mill Cave Ck