As the weather warms up toward, people will be looking for things to do indoors. Here is a list of some of the History Museums to be found in Southern Arizona. Some of them are favorites of ours. There are plenty more, smaller but worthwhile nonetheless. We have written stories/reviews or have original videos about many of them. There are some we are aware of but have not visited yet. We will add them when we do. Included in this list are some museums that could also be considered suitable for young children. We note them with an asterisk (*). Keep in mind that these are History Museums. The ones we have marked have room for children’s insatiable spirit and or programs just for kids.
Please call ahead to verify hours and entrance requirements. DOWNTOWN TUCSON
The Tucson Museum of Art is, in part located in the 19th-century homes of two prominent Tucsonans, Edward Fish and Hiram Stevens. Both were wealthy merchants. Next door is the J. Knox Corbett House, beautifully furnished in period pieces. Tours are given Sundays of the Corbett House. For a peek at the interior of the Corbett House, watch our short video. * Visit the Tucson Museum of Art on the 2nd Sunday of each month for Free admission for residents of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. There are family art projects for the kids.
140 North Main Avenue
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (check website for hours.)
10 am – 5 pm
This museum closed during the pandemic. Portions of it have been moved to the Old Pima County Courthouse where John Dillinger was tried. This is now part of the NEW Southern Arizona Heritage & Visitor Center. Others are now a part of the Arizona History Museum.
Click Here to view our original video about the AHS Downtown History Museum.
140 N. Stone Avenue
Hours: Wednesday-Friday 11 am-3 pm
Hours may vary, please call 520-770-1473 for more information.
Admission: Free, donations welcome.
El Presidio del Tucson*, Tucson
This museum is a re-creation of the Tucson Presidio which was 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 Living History Day, where there are 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.
196 N. Court Ave.
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 10 am – 4 pm
The Postal History Foundation*, Tucson
Now, this is, obviously not for everyone, but I had a friend who was wild about stamps and stamp-collecting. You can learn much about stamp collecting here. Lots of activities for kids and classes here.
920 N 1st Ave Tucson, AZ 85719
Hours: Monday-Friday Post office: 8-2:30
Tours and Philatelic Sales: 9-2:30
Sosa-Carrillo-Fremont House, Tucson
The Sosa-Carrillo-Fremont house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the Sosa–Carrillo–Fremont House, John Charles Frémont, former Territorial Governor of Arizona. He never lived there. The building is also known as the Carrillo House, once owned by Leopoldo Carrillo, a prominent Tucsonan in the 19th Century. The building is now owned by the Arizona Historical Society. The Borderlands Theater has its offices there.
145–153 S Main St.
In the Tucson Convention Center area
This museum is in the Old Pima County Courthouse. You know, the one with the magnificent dome. It is the culmination of years of work, to restore the old courthouse to its former glory with modern modifications.
The Visitor Center will include the Dillinger exhibit, where John Dillinger was arraigned, and a memorial to the events of January 8, 2011 and those that were injured and died.
Currently, June 2021, you can visit Monday – Friday from 10-2 pm.
115 N Church Ave.
Visitor Info at: 800-638-8350
Jewish History Museum, Tucson
The Jewish History Museum is housed in an old synagogue which was built in 1910. It is not spacious, yet it offers serious exhibits related to the contributions of many Jews, such as the Drachman brothers, and the vitality of early Tucson. Did you know, for example, that Tucson has had 5 Jewish mayors?
Adjacent to the Jewish History Museum is the Holocaust History Center. Over two hundred and thirty Holocaust survivors from eighteen nations made Southern Arizona their home during the post-WWII era. The Holocaust History Center exhibits illuminate the history of Nazi persecution and its aftermath through the lives of those who were there.
Your understanding of Tucson history will be seriously incomplete if you are not aware of the Jewish community’s contribution to the development of our city.
Whenever the JHM is open, a docent is there to enlighten. The exhibits only tell a part of the story. The docents bring the exhibits to life.
564 Stone Ave. Tucson
HOURS: Friday, 12-3pm
Saturday – Sunday, 1-5pm
A small museum with an important task. It was the railroad that actually put Tucson on the map. You can learn about it at this museum. Then go outside and see the train that was in the movie Oklahoma. Locomotive Saturdays are for the kids. Have lunch on the patio at Maynards. Watch the trains go by.
414 N. Toole Ave
HOURS: Tuesday – Sunday 11 – 3pm,
Friday – Saturday, 10 – 4pm
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 1800s. Also, it has a mining tunnel and re-creation of the 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.
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-4 pm, no admission fee.
This museum is currently not open to the public. It is currently handled by the Tucson Presidio.
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.
Hours: Thursday-Saturday 10am-4 pm
Admission: Free, donations welcome
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 in a historic 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.
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/
Arizona State Museum, Tucson
Located near the Main Gate of the University of Arizona, the Arizona State Museum is the oldest Anthropological Research Museum in Arizona. It is also the State repository of Archaeological Artifacts. A large research library and photographic collection of the Southwest are among its other holdings. Ongoing exhibits include Southwest Pottery, Baskets, Photographs, and American Indian Culture and History of the Southwest.
1013 E University Blvd.
Tucson, Arizona 85721-0026
Hours: Mon – Sat 10 am – 5pm
Closed Sundays and Holidays
Admission: $8 Adults $6 Seniors
African American Museum of Southern Arizona
There is a new Museum in town. It is located on the University of Arizona in the Student Union Building.
U of A Campus
Student Union Room 244
1303 E University Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85719
SOUTH OF TUCSON
Titan Missile Museum, Green Valley *
The Titan Missile Museum in Green Valley is the last remaining missile silo from the Cold War Era, which may or may not be behind us. The museum contains a deactivated missile and the living and working quarters of those who served in this bunker. A fascinating tour, especially if you did not live through it.
Watch our short video about the Titan Missile Museum
1580 W. Duval Mine Rd.
Sahuarita, Arizona 85629
HOURS: Sunday – Friday 9:45am – 5:00pm
Saturday 8:45am – 5:00pm
Mission Tumacacori is one of the missions located in Pimeria Alta, founded by Father Kino in 1691.
On the east I-10 Frontage Road Tumacacori, AZ
HOURS: 9 – 5 pm Daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas
El Presidio de Tubac, Tubac *
Tubac Presidio State Historic Park 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.
- *As with all Arizona State Parks there is a Junior Ranger Program here.
1 Burruel St., 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
Pimeria Alta Museum, Nogales
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, 11 am to 4 pm
Arizona Rangers Museum, Nogales
The Arizona Rangers originated in 1882, and were funded by the territory of Arizona from 1901 to 1909. It was reestablished in 1957. Current days Rangers are all volunteers. You can learn more about the history of the Arizona Rangers at this museum.
21 E Court St, Nogales, AZ 85621
Hours: Saturdays, 10am – 3pm
NORTH OF TUCSON
The Museum of Casa Grande, Casa Grande
An Archival library of early Arizona History, including photographs, documents, artifacts and exhibits.
110 W. Florence Blvd.
Casa Grande AZ 85122
September – April, Thursdays – Sundays,
Hours: 12- 4pm
June – August: First Fridays
Hours: 12 – 4pm
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Coolidge
The Casa Grande Ruins are located nearer to Florence than the city of Casa Grande. It is actually east of Picacho Peak in Coolidge. They call the main ruin “The Great House”. It is protected from the elements by a roof, which also houses an owl. The ancient peoples lived in this area for a thousand years until around 1450 CE about the same time as the Gutenberg Press. Besides the House, there is a large compound to explore. There is no longer a fee to visit this place. Well worth it.
1100 W. Ruins Drive
Coolidge, AZ 85128
Hours: Open Daily 9 am – 4 pm
Except major Holidays
Admission is FREE
A fascinating little museum, it is full of an assortment of historic artifacts including a barbed wire collection and several nooses used to hang prisoners at the Federal prison. You can also research your family history there. Other odd items include a collection of Saguaro rib furniture and a dental office.
715 South Main Street
Florence, Arizona 85132
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Closed Monday – Tuesday and all Major Holidays
McFarland State Historic Park, Florence
The town of Florence itself is a trip through history. There are over 150 historic homes in Florence. From time to time you can take a walking tour to visit some of these homes. McFarland State Historic Park is the site of the first Courthouse in Florence. It was dedicated in 1979 to Governor McFarland who was instrumental in saving it for the public.
24 W Ruggles St, Florence, AZ 85132
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Mon – Sat, October through May
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Mon – Sat, June through September
Park is closed on Sunday
EAST OF TUCSON
About 9 miles NW of Safford on Hwy 70 is the little town of Pima, founded and settled in the 1880’s by 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.
Amerind Museum Foundation, Dragoon
Located between Benson and Willcox, 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: Tuesday – Sunday year-round,
10am – 4pm
(Closed Mondays and major holidays)
Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Willcox *
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 should park at the rest stop and 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. * There is plenty of room for the kids to run. ADA access is down the road a bit. You will need to call and make arrangements in advance. There is a gate that must be opened.
3500 South Apache Pass Road, Bowie, AZ 85605
Hours: 7 days a week, 8:30am – 4pm
Closed on Government Holidays
Faraway Ranch, Chiricahua National Monument, Willcox
Faraway Ranch is part of the Chiricahua National Monument. It has a fascinating history. It was the home of the Erickson family, Swedish immigrants who fell in love with these mountains. It stayed in the family from the 1880’s to 1979 when it was sold to the National Park Service. Tours are available Saturdays and Sundays and more often in the spring. Call for more information.
12856 East Rhyolite Creek Road
Willcox, AZ 85643
Hours: Open daily 8:30 am to 4:30 pm except Christmas.
Fairbank Townsite, Fairbank *
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
Two Museums and Cemetery at Ft. Huachuca, Sierra Vista
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.
The Old Post Cemetery is the final resting place of old west military officers as well as Indian Scouts.
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. A donation is suggested.
Hours: 9am – 4pm Weekdays
1pm – 4pm weekends
This is the historic home of Texas John Slaughter, his wife Viola, and family. It was restored in the 1980s 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
Hours: 9:30am to 3:30pm Wednesday – Sunday.
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 our short video about the Bisbee MIning Museum.
Hours: Open Daily • 10am – 4pm
No. 5 Copper Queen Plaza
Muheim Heritage House, Bisbee
Part of the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum, the Queen Anne style home was built by Joseph Muheim, at one time the richest man in Bisbee and the owner of a brewery and saloon in Brewery Gulch. The home sits overlooking Brewery Gulch and the building that he built to house it still stands.
207 Youngblood Hill • Bisbee, AZ
Hours: Open daily 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM or by appointment
The Tombstone Courthouse is a must-see when you visit Tombstone, especially if you are a history buff. It is dedicated to keeping the story of Tombstone alive. During the 2007 recession, the State Parks was going to close it down but the citizens of Tombstone took care of it. 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.
Open Daily except Christmas
Hours: 9-5 pm
Adult (14+): $7.00
Bird Cage Theatre, Tombstone *
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 1880s. It is full of memorabilia. And they have Ghost tours in the evenings. Watch our short video about the Bird Cage Theatre.
Hours: Daily 9 am – 6 pm
535 E Allen St, Tombstone, AZ 85638
Coronado National Memorial, Hereford
ALERT: Much of the area south of the main road is closed due to Border Wall construction.
The Coronado National Memorial is just 5 miles north of the Mexico Border. It is believed that Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, a Spanish Conquistador and explorer came through here in his search for Cibola, the City of Gold. It is a small museum with hiking trails nearby and a cave that you can explore.
Watch Mike Foster’s short video about the Coronado National Memorial.