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Day trips: Peruse the past at Nevada State Museum

by Nancy Hamlett

Carson City has wonderful sites and attractions, but starting in April, with new display areas and the completion of the annex, you can easily spend almost a full day at the Nevada State Museum.

The Nevada State Museum was home of the U.S. Mint from 1870 until 1895, and a section on the first floor of the museum tells its history. It wasn’t until March 1929 that then-Gov. Carville signed the bill appropriating $5,000 for the purchase of the building from the federal government, with the intent of turning it into a museum.

On the main floor, the museum celebrates its heritage with an exhibit of Coin Press #1 and a complete set of Morgan dollars minted in Carson City. Another area is devoted to the changing gallery exhibits, with the ghost town and mine entrance nearby.

On the second story, you can learn about Nevada’s geology and anthropology, with an extensive Nevada history section broken down into decades. And don’t overlook an exhibit of Dat So La Lee and other basketmakers’ artistry. You’ll be amazed by the workmanship.

A lot of time, money and manpower had gone into the making of the museum when it opened its doors in 1959. The exhibits have improved and expanded over the years, and now there is another expansion underway.

With the purchase of the adjacent bank building, the museum is rearranging and organizing. Museum director Jim Barmore is overseeing renovations to the annex, which will house a new changing gallery, an improved museum store and the history and research library.

“The annex will give us the opportunity for us to do more Nevada topics and selections,” said Barmore. “We’ll be able to bring in traveling exhibits in earth science, history, natural history and anthropology.”

The annex, with the exception of the research library, will open on April 12, with a grand opening celebration planned on Saturday, April 21.

“There will be a celebration all day with free admission,” said Barmore. “It will be a great day for families to visit the museum.”

According to Barmore, the Annex will provide higher visibility and improve foot traffic to the gift store, and the changing gallery will offer a well-rounded representation of the museum’s exhibits.

“People will be able to sample the value of the collection and the purpose of the museum. Why we are here and why we do what we do,” said Barmore. “And the gift store already has one of the largest selections of books about Nevada and the west, but when it moves to the annex, the stock will be even more impressive.”

The Nevada State Museum is located at 600 N. Carson St. in Carson City and is open daily. Fall-winter hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Spring-summer hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 687-4810.