October 2017 Building Fund Update:
Fundraising efforts have begun. The goal of the fundraising effort to finance the expansion plan is $500,000, all of it to be raised through museum receipts and donations. The SMHS is a non-profit organization and has never received any public or governmental funding.
Particulars of Proposed Building Plans:
Plans call for expanding the current building 40 feet to the east toward the amphitheater and the mountain and also southward; northward expansion is not feasible due to the necessity of enclosing the current patio and extensive reconfiguring of the elevation to provide for construction of a new patio.
Gift Shop Expansion:
The fact is that the majority of the income used to finance the museum comes primarily from gift shop profits. As the museum grows, so must the revenue produced by the gift shop.
That entails having more floor space for displaying product and more space set up for receiving, processing, pricing and storing merchandise.
An additional 1000 sq. ft. of gift shop space would allow for display of more merchandise and an additional 1000 sq. feet at the south end of the building would allow for an enlarged merchandise delivery and processing area.
Exhibit Gallery Expansion:
Under the plans for expansion, the Exhibit Gallery space would be enlarged to 3100 sq. ft., allowing for the display of more of the artifacts currently stored in museum archives. The number and variety of exhibits would be increased, thus enhancing the visitor experience.
The addition of a 1046 sq. ft. Reference Library, noted by founders early on as a priority, is another important feature of the expansion plans. This library would also serve as meeting space, a need currently being met by a small 196 sq. ft. room at the back of the chapel. Floor to ceiling bookshelves would allow for the storage of documents, records and publications. Current archival storage space is limited and climate-controlled library space will ensure the continued preservation of this rare and important information.
Office Space, Kitchen and Restrooms:
“Support space” in the form of more office space, a larger kitchen area and additional restrooms has become a necessity. Current staff working space, file cases and office equipment is divided between two small offices. Expansion plans call for additional office space to be constructed so that operations and oversight of the existing museum campus and additional space can continue in an efficient manner. Restrooms, opening to the outside, will help alleviate restroom user lines that form during events.
New Patio and Trellis on east side of Building:
Completing the expansion will be a new patio on the east side of the building with a trellis to provide shade. Patio space around the north and east sides of the building has proven to be invaluable.
This expansion plan will not necessarily be permanently adequate to meet all future needs, but represents a timely, realistic solution to dealing with the demands of growth management.
Why A Building Project?
The dedicated group of people who formed the Superstition Mountain Historical Society in 1980 had two things in common – a great and abiding interest in the history and lore of the Superstition Mountains, and a serious commitment to doing something to ensure that this information would be preserved and available to people throughout posterity.
They took as their mission “to collect and preserve the history, legends and lore of Arizona’s Superstition Mountains, to support research, education and publication involving the region, and to develop a historical museum and research library devoted to these endeavors.” The vision they shared was to have a premier museum and library research facility that will broaden perspectives and knowledge of the Superstition Mountain region and its cultures.
The first museum was established in a rented building at Goldfield Ghost Town in 1990. The next huge step taken to accomplishing the goal of having a permanent museum campus was the acquisition of 12 acres of land along the Apache Trail (Highway 88). The opening of the 12-acre campus and the permanent 5000 sq. ft. museum building that was constructed was celebrated in 2003.
Acquisitions and improvements on the grounds since then have included the Apacheland Barn and the Elvis Chapel from Apacheland Movie Ranch, an amphitheater, the 20-stamp ore mill, a prospectors’ shack, an Old West storefront , the archive, a Garden scale model railroad exhibit, an arrastre, a small working mine model, and much more.
In the nearly 15 years since the museum opened at 4087 N Apache Trail, activities and events at the museum and resultant attendance have multiplied exponentially. Today, the museum is one of the most well-known attractions on the Apache Trail, and hosts more than 57,000 visitors from all over the world annually. It also serves as the main information dissemination point for the crowds of tourists journeying up the Apache Trail each year.
Attendance at the yearly three-day events and a 14-session free lecture series has increased dramatically, bringing in thousands of attendees. The sheer numbers are at the point of straining current restroom facilities, crowding current gift shop space and jamming the exhibit gallery aisles.
With nearly 15 years of forward momentum fueling the need for expansion, the current SMHS Board of Directors, staff and volunteers are committing to pursuing a museum expansion project that will invigorate and continue pursuance of the vision adopted by the founding members. The responsible management of growth has become a pressing priority.