From its days as a territory to what’s going on right now, Arizona has an exciting story to tell. That’s the goal of the Arizona Capitol Museum in Chandler.
Known as Arizona’s Museum, it has been located since 1977 in the renovated Capitol building, constructed in 1901. So it’s a history museum housed in a historic building, one that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
A State with a Past
First explored by a European in 1539, Arizona has a rich history. The Spanish founded Fort Tucson in 1775. The northern part of the state became part of the U.S. after the U.S.-Mexican war in 1848. The southern section was added with the Gadsden Purchase in 1853.
Arizona is an integral part of the Wild West, both in fact and in myth. The shootout at the OK Corral was in Tombstone, AZ. The great Indian chiefs Cochise and Geronimo lived and fought in this area. It has one of the largest populations of Native Americans in the country, more than 14 tribes.
The U.S.S. Arizona was sunk when Pearl Harbor was bombed, the event that triggered American entry into World War II. The ship’s silver service is on display on the first-floor area dedicated to the ship.
Across the hall is an exhibit that shows the Merci Train, an Arizona boxcar that was filled with gifts from the French, expressing their thanks for American help after World War II.
In the next room is a touch table that shows all the monuments and memorials around the capitol recording the state’s contribution to the war effort. There are also videos, photos and artifacts detailing Arizona involvement.
A room on the second floor has the “Your Vote, Your Government” exhibit. This offers information about current candidates and ballot measures in the state.
On the other side of the rotunda on the second floor are two rooms called “AZ Takes Shape,” showing how the territory gradually morphed into the State of Arizona. The capitol itself has changed towns several times in its history.
Beyond that is the Governor’s Office, kept in the fashion of the first year of Arizona statehood. On the third floor is the historic Senate Chamber, which can be reserved for special events.
Close to the rotunda on the third floor is a room dedicated to state symbols, including the state flag made of Lego. The various seals of the state are shown in the adjoining room.
Close by are two rooms with exhibits on the state constitution and the history of its progression from territory to statehood. Next to that is the historic House Chamber, restored to look just as it did during the state’s Constitutional Convention.
The museum has a fourth floor made up of galleries for the Senate and House Chambers. Visitors can view events in the chambers from the galleries.
Visit the Museum
The Arizona Capitol Museum is located at 1700 West Washington Street. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 until 4. On Saturday it is open 10 to 2, from September through May. Appropriately, it is closed on state holidays.
The website is http://www.azlibrary.gov/azcm/exhibits. Contact the museum by calling 602-926-3620. There is also a contact form on the website: https://www.azlibrary.gov/contact/Arizona-Capitol-Museum
Before coming, it can help to look at the Plan Your Visit page of the museum website. Guided tours are available for groups with 10 or more, with advance notice.
The museum gift shop offers a range of merchandise that captures the art and architecture of Arizona and the Capitol building. Included are custom-designed jewelry and other goods.
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