The Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, Arizona is a history museum named for its founder, Sharlot Mabridth Hall (1870-1943), Arizona’s first historian. The museum is comprised of seven historic buildings and the collection within. Permanent exhibits at the museum trace the history of Yavapai County. The exhibit ‘Arizona on an Alien Planet’ takes visitors on a journey from the creation of the earth, through the time of the dinosaurs.
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Permanent Collection: ‘From Mammoths to Mice’ examines the Paleo-Indian, or Clovis, way of life. The exhibit teaches visitors about the hunting and cooking done by Arizona’s earliest inhabitants, and the archeological finds that have provided us with this information. ‘Beasts! Savannah South of the Snow’ exhibits the animals which lived in Arizona 10,000 years ago, below the southern boundaries of the polar ice caps. Taxidermied saber-tooth cats and wolves are on display. ‘The Baskets Keep Talking’ displays highlights of the museum’s collection of over 400 Native American baskets. Most of the baskets are over 100 years old and the collection spans 25 different Arizona tribes. The oldest of the collection is a remarkably preserved 800-year old Anasazi basket. ‘Mysteries of the Village People: Stone Age Developers’ explores Arizona’s first villages, comprised of hilltop forts overlooking the pithouses. ‘Life in Old Yavapai’ displays artifacts and tools from the early 19th century.
Exhibits are housed in the Old Governor’s Mansion, an historic log cabin built in 1864. The oldest government building in Arizona, it is still standing in its original location. ‘Transportation through the Ages’ is located in the transportation building, a historic auto-repair shop. The exhibit offers several examples of early transportation, from covered wagons to the first bicycles, to a 1927 Durant Star Touring car personally owned by Sharlot Hall. The Liese and Rosenblatt Gallery is home to a number of aerial photographs of Prescott taken from 1868 to the present, which demonstrate the changes that have occurred as the town has grown. The exhibit includes drawings of Prescott from the 1870’s through the 1880’s. A library and archives includes a vast collection of old photographs, documents, books and maps pertaining to the history of Arizona as a territory and state. The Territorial Women’s Rose Garden to the north of the Old Governor’s Mansion honors more than 400 women who have been nominated over the years as uniquely representative of Arizona. The museum store is located in the Bashford House, a historic Victorian home built in 1875.
History: Sharlot Hall arrived in Arizona in 1882 at the age of 12. She was briefly schooled but mostly self-educated and demonstrated her love for Arizona through an extensive production of poems and writing. In 1909, she was named Territorial Historian of Arizona, the first woman to hold the office. Soon thereafter she began to collect Native American and early Arizonan artifacts. In 1927, at the request of the state, she moved her collection to the old governor’s mansion, and open the site as a museum. Since her death in 1943, the collection has been managed by a non-profit historical society.
Ongoing Programs and Education: The museum offers 60-minute tours of the exhibits geared towards 4th graders. Group tours may also be scheduled with a focus on any particular area of interest or age group. Traveling Trunks brings artifacts and interpreters from the museum to local schools. Themed Living History programs take place at the museum on the second and third Saturday of each month. Living History volunteers educate guests on what life was like in 19th century Arizona, when Prescott was the territory’s capitol. The museum’s historic buildings and grounds are host to a number of annual festivals. The Folk Arts Fair takes place each June.
This weekend festival transforms the museum grounds into 19th century Arizona. Visitors watch and participate in historic skills and crafts such as sheep shearing, yarn spinning and baking biscuits. The Prescott Indian Art Market takes place each July. Jury selected Native American artists present traditional and contemporary art work for sale on the museum grounds. A Folk Music Festival each October is approaching its 40th year as Arizona’s longest running music festival. The weekend event offers entertainment on four stages as well as workshops and lectures on the history of music in Arizona. A Frontier Christmas takes place in early December. This Living History event tells the story of what Christmas was like in the historic Fort Misery cabin through the eyes of Judge Howard, a historical figure played by a Living History volunteer.
415 W. Gurley Street, Prescott, AZ 86301, Phone: 928-445-3122