Gem and Mineral Display
Arizona is, famously, the land of the “five C’s”: copper, cattle, cotton, climate, and citrus. Copper has been economically important throughout Arizona history, as have other ores – silver, gold, and turquoise foremost among them. Still other minerals have found countless valuable employments, from the hematite used in manufacturing to the chalcedony, jasper, and jade used in jewelry.
The area around Wickenburg abounds in mines that have produced, over the years, many of these precious ores. One well-known gold producing site is the Vulture Mine, located about eight miles southwest of the Museum. Other mines in the nearby Vulture, Bradshaw, Weaver and Hieroglyphic Mountains produced quantities of silver and copper. Some of them REWARDED their discoverers nicely, while others brought less generous returns. Win or lose, news of those mines brought many newcomers to Wickenburg, seeking to try their hand at making fortunes of their own.
The efforts of miners, prospectors, collectors and latter-day rockhounds have added up, over the years, to a splendid assemblage of minerals housed at the museum. Spend time in the display devoted to them, and you’ll be inspired to learn more about the earth beneath your feet – and perhaps to start a collection of your own.
American Indian Art and Artifacts
Wickenburg lies at the meeting ground of several geographic zones: the rugged Mojave Desert to the west, the tree-rich and stream-laced Arizona highlands to the north and east, and the vast Sonoran Desert to the south. Just so, for thousands of years its site has been the meeting ground of many American Indian peoples, each of which has left its mark on the region.
Some of them, such as the Patayan peoples of the desert to the west, are little known even to scholars. Others, such as the Hohokam farmers of the Valley of the Sun, left behind a rich archaeological record that is still being studied today. Episodes in the storied past of the Apache peoples are well known to all students of American history, while the Kwevkapaya and Tolkepaya, or Yavapai, peoples who settled along the Hassayampa River and its tributaries have a rich tradition that offers lessons to all of us about how to live in this arid but generous place.
Gathered over decades, the Museum’s small but very significant collection of American Indian material culture speaks to the arts, crafts, and lifeways of those who came before us. Beadwork, leatherwork, lithics, ceramics, basketry, and other artifacts are on display.