Located in Joplin, Missouri, the Joplin History and Mineral Museum Complex contains two museums detailing the industrial and mining history of the Joplin region and the Tri-State Mining District. The Tri-State Mining District was a historic mining district in the United States Great Plains region that was formed following an 1870 discovery of zinc ore near the city of Galena, Kansas.
For the greater part of the next century, the district became one of the main zinc and lead ore mining regions in the world, producing more than 50 percent of the United States’ zinc mining products and 10 percent of its lead mining products. Major Superfund sites sprung up throughout the mid-to-late 19th and early 20th centuries in southeast Kansas, southwest Missouri, and northeast Oklahoma. Production within the Joplin-Granby region of southwest Missouri’s Jasper and Newton Counties began in the mid-19th century, and the city of Joplin was founded in 1873 as a mining boomtown. Though the region’s mining deposits were largely abandoned in the late 1960s and early 1970s, mining conditions within the region resulted in a number of federal, state, and local cleanup and reclamation projects to reduce acidic water conditions produced from the flooding of abandoned mines.
The Joplin History and Mineral Museum was originally the vision of Dorothea B. Hoover, an instrumental figure in the creation of the city’s Joplin Historical Society and its public Historical Museum facility. Hoover was the daughter of an early pioneer family and grew up during Joplin’s height as a mining boomtown. Following her education at Wellesley College and a professional career in Washington, D.C., Hoover returned to the Joplin area and became a major advocate for cultural and historic preservation within the region. Hoover’s vision was eventually recognized by a citizen group led by Tri-State Mineral Museum curator Everett Ritchie, who created the Joplin History and Mineral Museum facility in 1994.
Permanent Exhibits and Collections
Today, the Joplin History and Mineral Museum Complex is presented as a dual museum complex, showcasing two museums detailing the social and economic history of Joplin and the Tri-State Mining District. Original museum exhibits and mineral specimen displays created by Everett Ritchie in 1994 are still on display at the museum, along with a variety of exhibits related to the social and cultural history of the city of Joplin. As a public educational museum facility, the museum strives to connect community audiences with the region’s past and foster civic engagement to shape its future through its public programming.
Two distinct museum facilities are showcased at the complex, including the Everett J. Ritchie Tri-State Mineral Museum, which boasts one of the most notable mineral collections within the Tri-State Mining District region. The geology and geochemistry of the region is examined through a variety of exhibits, along with the mining methods and processes utilized by miners throughout the region’s 100-year operation period. An Evolution of Mining exhibit chronicles the timeline and development of the region from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century and beyond, while a Prehistoric Finds exhibit showcases fossil finds and artifacts connected to the region’s geological development and prehistory. Several special mineral collections are on display, including a Glowing Rocks exhibit that showcases minerals under fluorescent lights. A Maps Collection displays historic preserved mining maps detailing areas throughout the region, while a Mineral in Product exhibit details the everyday uses of lead and zinc and the common products the minerals are used in.
At the Dorothea B. Hoover Historical Museum, the social and cultural history of the Joplin region are explored through a variety of exhibits utilizing collections obtained by the Joplin Historical Society. Major exhibit areas chronicle the development of notable businesses and industries in the area that grew as a result of the mining district’s success, such as the Empire District Electric Company exhibit. Famous Joplin residents such as Langston Hughes and Dennis Weaver are highlighted in the Famous Joplinites exhibit, while the area’s connection to national figures of note is explored in a Bonnie and Clyde exhibit and a Merle Evans Miniature Circus exhibit. A Joplin Sports Hall of Fame exhibit honors local and regional sports figures, while a Parkwood and Memorial High Schools Memorabilia exhibit preserves items connected to the city’s public high schools. Other major exhibits on display include a turn-of-the-century soda shop replica, a large historic cookie cutter collection, and a display of Belsnickle artistic creations by artist Linda Lindquist Baldwin.
Ongoing Programs and Events
A variety of annual public special events are hosted at the museum complex, including a three-day Spring Rock and Gem Show displaying a wide variety of rare and significant mineral and gemstone specimens. A Chatauqua weekend event also serves as a major museum fundraiser, offering a variety of public activities throughout a weekend in October. Activities presented as part of the fundraiser include a cocktail event, a downtown mural tour, and a historic walking tour.
504 S. Schifferdecker Avenue, Joplin, Missouri 64801, Phone: 417-623-1180