History Museums in Tucson & Southern Arizona
Following is a list of some of the History Museums to be found in Tucson and Southern Arizona. These are just some of the worthwhile museums in the area. Some of them are our favorites, but you decide. There are plenty more. We have written stories & reviews about many of them.
History Museums in Tucson
Arizona History Museum, Tucson
The Arizona History Museum is located near the UA campus on 2nd Street. It includes the stories and artifacts of Arizona notables such as Geronimo and Wyatt Earp, and the Emperor and Empress Maximilian and Carlotta of Mexico who ruled much of Arizona in the 1800’s. Also, it has a mining tunnel and re-creation of 1870’s Tucson based on the diary of George Hand, a saloonkeeper. This museum hosts special lectures and annual events. It is home to the Arizona Historical Society’s Library, archives, and artifacts collection. The facade was taken from the first Catholic Cathedral in Tucson when it was torn down.
View our Arizona History Museum original video.
949 E. 2nd Street, Tucson, Arizona 85719
Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-4pm, Saturday 11am-4pm
Closed on Sundays & Federal Holidays.
Admission: Members Free
General admission: $10
Library and Archives hours: Tuesday-Friday 10 am-4pm, no admission fee.
Fort Lowell Museum, Tucson
09/07/2022 This museum is currently closed. There are efforts by the Friends of Ft. Lowell and the Presidio Museum to open it up again.
This museum is located in a realistic reproduction of the 1880s’ adobe officer quarters. The Fort Lowell Museum features exhibits and activities chronicling army life during the Apache wars. It has two buildings; one with exhibits about the U.S. Army at the time of the Apache Wars and the other dedicated to the Chiricahua Apaches who fought the Army.
This museum is on the original parade grounds. A walking tour of Fort Lowell public park includes Hohokam Indian sites, a historic neighborhood, picnic facilities, a playground and a ball field where old-time baseball games are played.
Click here to view our original video on the Fort Lowell Museum.
2900 N. Craycroft Road Tucson, Arizona 85712
Hours: Thursday-Saturday 10am-4 pm
Admission: Free, donations welcome
El Presidio del Tucson
This museum is a re-creation of the Tucson Presidio built in 1775. A visit demonstrates how early Tucsonans lived. Docent tours reveal life in the Santa Cruz Valley for early Native Americans, Presidio and Territorial settlers. Included here are the remains of a pit house. You can walk along the original Presidio wall and appreciate a 150-year-old classic Sonoran row house. Periodically, they have demonstrations of the replica 18th-century cannon firing, marching Spanish soldiers, and tables set up to demonstrate food and games of life in earliest Tucson.
Click here to view our original video on the May 1, 1782 Apache Attack on the Tucson Presidio.
196 N. Court Ave. Tucson, AZ 85701
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 10 am – 4 pm
Franklin Automobile Museum, Tucson, AZ
The Franklin Auto Museum was founded by Thomas Hubbard as a means to continue his collection of classic Franklin automobiles. Today, the museum includes every year of the company’s production starting in 1909.
It includes his aunt’s extensive collection of Native American artifacts, and a historical adobe home.
The automobile collection has grown to include additional representative examples of all Franklin automobiles. The H. H. Franklin Foundation is an educational museum of cars and displays. This is the center of Franklin automobile history.
Click Here to view our original video introduction to the Franklin Auto Museum.
1405 East Kleindale Road, Tucson, AZ 85719
(Entrance from Vine Ave.)
Hours: Open Mid Oct. to Memorial Day.
Wed-Sat 10am – 4pm
Other hours by appointment
History Museums in Other Parts of Southern Arizona
Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Willcox, AZ
Fort Bowie preserves the remains of the era of the Apache wars, when the expansion was pitted against the Indian for almost 25 years. It is fascinating to stand and walk in this space where these events occurred. There is a Visitors Center with much history covered. Fit guests to this museum must walk the mile and a half past the military cemetery and take in the ambiance of such a place that formed the future of a nation, and Arizona.
Read our pictorial article on Fort Bowie here.
Visit the site for Directions.
Hours: Daily 8:30 am- 4pm
Pimeria Alta Museum, Nogales, AZ
The Pimeria Alta, the home of the “upper” or northern Pima Indians, was so named by the early Spanish settlers in Sonora. The region of the Pimeria Alta encompassed much of Northern Mexico and all of Southern Arizona.
Nogales is in the geographical center of the area. Housed in the Old Nogales City Hall, constructed in 1914, the museum provides information on the history of the Pimeria Alta and welcomes visitors to the border area.
136 N. Grand Avenue, Nogales, Arizona 85621
(520) 287- 4621
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am to 4pm
Eastern Arizona Museum, Pima, AZ
About 9 miles NW of Safford on Hwy 70 is the little town of Pima, founded and settled in the 1880s by the Mormons. The big attraction here is the little Eastern Arizona Museum & Historical Society. It resides partly in the 1915 Pima Bank building and partly in the adjacent building that housed the local pharmacy. In fact, parts of the pharmacy are still there, on exhibit.
This museum has a lot of photographs and artifacts from the late 19th & early 20th century that depict rural life in Southeastern Arizona.
2 North Main
Pima, Arizona 85543 (Graham County northwest of Safford)
Hours: Thursday, Friday, & Saturday 10am – 3pm
For other times and tours, call Edres Barney 928-485-3032.
El Presidio de Tubac, Tubac, AZ
Tubac Presidio State Historic Park’s preserves the ruins of the oldest Spanish Presidio in Arizona established in 1752. The cavalrymen were stationed at the Presidio to protect the settlers from Apaches, to control the Pima Indians, and to further explore the Southwest. Juan Bautista de Anza was the second commander and the person who organized and led an expedition to California. Once there, they established the city of San Francisco in 1776. The expedition included 240 colonists, many of whom were from Tubac. The colonists gathered over 1,000 head of livestock – cattle, horses, and mules – at Tubac for the expedition.
The Park also preserves one of the oldest Territorial schoolhouses. Additionally, the Park exhibits the hand press used to print the first newspaper in Arizona, the Weekly Arizonan, that was first published in Tubac in 1859.
Click Here to view our original video on the Anza Day Celebration Ride from Tumacacori to Tubac.
Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Daily
Admission: Adults (14+): $7.00
There is no fee to enter the Visitor Center
Fairbank Townsite, Fairbank, AZ
Fairbank is located within the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA), along the San Pedro River near Tombstone. Today it is a ghost town. The town began with the construction of a railroad in 1881, and it soon became an important depot as well as the closest railhead to Tombstone, then one of the largest western cities (pop. 15,000 in 1882). Originally called Junction City, it was officially named Fairbank in 1883. The name honors N.K. Fairbank of Chicago, who helped finance the railroad.
The Bureau of Land Management acquired the land that was once the Mexican Land Grant in 1986 as part of the San Pedro Riparian NCA. Today the area is open for the public. Take a tour when available with the Friends of the San Pedro River, who maintain the schoolhouse. A self-guided tour will show you around what was once a thriving boom-town of the wild west! Historical markers indicate points of interest .
Central to the exhibits here is the restored school house where a volunteer docent is usually in attendance to greet you.
Click here to view our original slideshow about Fairbank.
Hours: Fri – Sun 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Museums at Ft. Huachuca, Sierra Vista, AZ
Just west of the main route through Sierra Vista is Fort Huachuca, headquarters for the U.S. Army’s Strategic Communications Command and the home of two fine military museums housed in three buildings on the fort.
One museum is dedicated to the history of the U.S. Army in the American Southwest. Of particular importance, it tells the story of the Army’s 10th Cavalry Regiment, the fighting unit more famously known as the Buffalo Soldiers, the all-Black regiment established immediately after the Civil War.
The other museum is the Military Intelligence Museum. It takes you through the evolution of Army intelligence-gathering capabilities. It has been totally redone and modernized. The museum is located in the MI- Library and Learning Center off Hatfield Road.
Fort Huachuca, a National Historic Landmark, is four miles west of Sierra Vista, Arizona, on AZ 90. The Fort Huachuca Museum is located three miles northwest of the fort’s main gate at Boyd and Grierson Aves. The museum is open on weekdays from 9:00am to 4:00pm and from 1:00pm to 4:00pm on weekends. A donation is suggested.
Slaughter (San Bernardino) Ranch Museum, Douglas, AZ
This is the historic home of Texas John Slaughter, his wife Viola, and family. It was restored in the 1980’s and since been carefully maintained. A self-guided tour of the home and grounds lets you see the living quarters and out-buildings that was among the largest cattle ranches in Arizona. John Slaughter was the sheriff who cleaned up Cochise County after the Earps left Arizona. He was an avid gambler and a well-respected lawman. He once confronted Pancho Villa when his army was discovered butchering Slaughter’s cattle.
You can read his story at Arizona’s Meanest Little Good Guy. Another interesting story is “Apache May”, An Indian Girl on the Slaughter Ranch.
6153 Geronimo Trail
Douglas, AZ 85607
Phone: (520) 678-7935
Hours: 9:30am to 3:30pm Wednesday – Sunday.
Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum, Bisbee, AZ
Once the corporate headquarters of the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company, the museum is at the center of town and at the heart of its history.
The museum is a rural affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, a partnership between the nation’s largest museum and one of its smallest.
Watch a video about the Bisbee Historical Museum here.
Watch our video presented by a miner about the Queen Mine here.
Hours: Open Daily • 10am – 4pm
No. 5 Copper Queen Plaza
Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park, Tombstone, AZ
The Tombstone Courthouse is a must see when you visit Tombstone, especially if you are a history buff. Built in 1882, it is dedicated to keeping the original story of Tombstone alive. During the 2007 recession the State Parks was going to close it down but the citizens of Tombstone kept it open. The Ed Scheffelin Monument, where the father of Tombstone is buried, is also part of the State Park since 2003. It is 3 miles west of Tombstone. Just follow the signs to the Monument Ranch.
223 E Toughnut St., Tombstone
Open Daily except Christmas
Adult (14+): $7.00
Amerind Museum Foundation, Dragoon, AZ
The Amerind Foundation houses the premiere American Indian Art and Artifacts collection in the nation. They also have a research center and education classes.
2100 N. Amerind Rd., Dragoon, AZ 85609
Hours: 10am – 4pm, Tuesday – Sunday year round,
(Closed Mondays and major holidays)
Bird Cage Theatre, Tombstone, AZ
The Bird Cage Theatre is one of the oldest Museums in Arizona, although it did not start out as a museum. It was a raucous den of iniquity running 24 hours a day for 8 + years. A little bit on the tacky side, still it offers a glimpse into life and times in the 1880’s. It is full of memorabilia. And they have Ghost tours in the evenings.
Watch a short video of the Bird Cage Theatre here.
535 E Allen St, Tombstone, AZ 85638
Hours: Daily 9am – 6pm
Yuma Territorial Prison, Yuma, AZ
Yuma is a bit of a hike from Tucson, but you can be sure there is plenty of history at its Territorial Prison. What a great find.
Here you can learn about the history of this area from the Chechen Indian revolution to the early 1900’s.
220 N. Prison Hill Road
Yuma, AZ 85364
Hours: 9am. – 5pm
Park exhibits close at 4:30 p.m.
Admission: Adult (14+): $8.00
We are absolutely sure there are others worth noting and would appreciate your suggestions. Please send us a note about your history museum suggestion here.