The Nevada State Museum is a unique and inspired institution whose sole purpose is to maintain the state’s history and pre-history. The museum maintains the artifacts of the Capitol building’s museum as well as being the oversight for satellite museums throughout the state. The most exciting part of this institution is the ‘Mine Exhibit’. This exhibit was opened in 1950 and was cutting-edge at the time. It is located in the old mint’s basement and remained unchanged since opening. There are now three or more generations who have experienced this exhibit and anyone who has seen the Mine Exhibit asks if it still there. This exhibit has taken on a part of the State of Nevada’s historic legacy within the museum itself.
The museum is located mostly inside the old Carson City Mint and has an annex where the curation, restoration, and preservation occurs. This annex is in an old bank and so retains the vault where valuable and fragile material is safely stored. When the mint building was restored in the 1980s and incorporated, with its new façade and the bank, artifacts were excavated from within the basement and around the exterior. These artifacts are unique especially the collection of coin press dies. The U.S. Treasury asked that all of the mints send their old dies back to Philadelphia to be destroyed but the Carson City Mint just buried them to save the cost of shipping. The museum now has the largest collection of canceled dies in the country.
I was afforded an opportunity to work as a volunteer docent and ambassador for the different exhibits as well some of the outreach projects with local schoolchildren. The staff was very friendly and eager to accept my services as a volunteer, I did have a series of questions for the director but I arrived a week after he started his new job so found no opening to speak with him. I can say that almost every institution I have visited has an issue with employee turnover at various levels. There was an opening for the education curator and even with a brand new director, the day to day operation seemed to move along flawlessly.
The exterior of the museum has a huge glass breezeway and elevator shaft that looks just like an old wooden mine shaft scaffold. It is very recognizable from Carson Drive and has some very cozy parking in the back with a huge free city parking lot next door. There is a cover charge for the museum but it is well worth the price. Surrounding the museum is the Carson City Historic district that has buildings on the National Register of Historic places and the Historic American Building Survey (HABS/HAER).