Our History

El Zaribah Shrine building in downtown Phoenix circa 1931.

1931 photograph of the El Zaribah Shrine building, which was built in 1921 and home to the museum starting in 1991. Courtesy of McCulloch Brothers Inc. Photographs, CP MCLMB A617B. Arizona State University Libraries: Arizona Collection.

The Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum

The Mining and Mineral Museum has a fascinating history dating back to the first Arizona Territorial Fair in 1884. The minerals were housed in an exhibit hall at the Arizona State Fairgrounds starting in 1919. In 1991, they were moved to the El Zaribah Shrine Building (renamed the Polly Rosenbaum Building) at 1502 W. Washington Street on the Capitol Mall. From 1991-2011, the AMMM hosted tens of thousands of visitors and schoolchildren each year. For the complete history of the collection, click here.

In 2011, the AMMM was closed to make way for the Centennial Museum, which did not materialize due to budget restraints. The mineral collection is currently housed in securely in storage, with select specimens on loan to institutions around the state.

Rep. Gail Griffin

Rep. Gail Griffin, Advisory Committee member and museum stakeholder, with the P&H 2800 Shovel Bucket from ASARCO's Ray Mine. Many thanks to Rep. Griffin for championing for the museum in the state legislature and ensuring our success.

Legislation paves the way for change

The AMMNRE Museum was established in 2016, starting with Arizona Senate Bill (SB) 1530, which transferred custodianship of the Polly Rosenbaum Building to the Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS), at the University of Arizona, and charged AZGS with designing, opening and operating a new natural resource museum. In 2017, SB 1415 ensured the permanent transfer of the museum to the University of Arizona, with responsibility moved to the UA Office of Research, Innovation & Impact. In 2022, The University of Arizona Board of Regents received a $12 million appropriation from the State of Arizona to begin the renovation process for the AMMNRE Museum.

Advisory Council

AMMNRE Museum Advisory Council members meeting to discuss museum development.

Where we are today

Today, the AMMNRE Museum is in development under the UA Office of Research, Innovation & Impact. We are working with a design-build team and our official museum Advisory Council to develop a vision for the future and plan renovations for the building. Our volunteers have assisted with building cleanup and organization and maintenance of the outdoor equipment. We are especially grateful for the support of the University of Arizona, State of Arizona legislators, our stakeholders, our Advisory Council, peer museums, and the community.