The first territorial capital of Arizona was Fort Whipple, an army post near Prescott. The capital was later moved to Prescott. In 1867 the territorial capital was moved to Tucson. In 1877, the capital moved back to Prescott. Phoenix became Arizona's permanent capital city in 1889 and, in that year, the construction of the Phoenix state Capitol building began. Completed in 1900, the cost of the building was about $136,000. The Arizona State Capitol Building was dedicated on February 25, 1901. It was designated a museum in 1977.
The Arizona State Capitol Museum was the actual state capitol building when Arizona became the 48th state of the United State in 1912. The Governor's Office was located here until the mid-70s. Although the rooms of the Arizona State Capitol Museum are no longer used for state business, the Governor's Office, other departments and the Senate and House of Representatives are in adjacent buildings.
The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tip: When you visit the museum, you'll note that it isn't especially fancy or hi-tech. This building is deliberately very similar to the original, so don't expect fancy lighting or big screen videos. The goal here is authenticity.
Who Should Go?
The museum is open to the public, but you can be certain that it is highly utilized by local schools for educational purposes.
School Groups and Guided Tours
Reservations are required for all student groups and other larger guided tours. The guided tours focus on the north wing of the 2nd and 3rd floors (offices, House Chamber) and last for about 45 minutes followed by a visit to one of the current Legislative chambers for about half an hour.
Small Groups and Individuals
You are encouraged to visit the Arizona State Capitol Museum during regular hours and tour the exhibits on your own. Stop at the information desk off the main rotunda when entering the building and pick up a flyer with a museum map. Volunteers are available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to interpret the exhibits and answer questions for visitors. From 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 pm the north wing of the 2nd and 3rd floors is set aside for guided tours. If you would rather visit when the museum has fewer large groups, the afternoon is your best bet.
Of Interest to Educators
If you can't get your students out on a field trip to the Arizona Capitol Museum, check online for available traveling exhibits about Arizona and its history.
Factoid: The motto Ditat Deus on the Great Seal of the State of Arizona means God Enriches.
What You'll See
The Arizona Capitol Museum has exhibits on four floors. I suggest that you take the elevator to the top and work your way down! On the 4th floor, you can look down into the original House Chamber from the gallery. On the 3rd Floor, you'll learn about territorial Arizona, how a bill becomes a law and you'll get to know the people of Arizona. This is the level where the Chamber is located. On the second floor of the museum, you'll get a glimpse into the offices, including the Governor's office, Secretary of State and Mining Inspector. Is Governor Hunt in today? I think he is! On this level, you'll find artwork from the Arizona Capitol Museum collection. Back to the main floor. In addition to the State Seal on the rotunda floor, you'll see items salvaged from the USS Arizona after the Pearl Harbor attack and learn about its history, see an exhibit about Arizona's state symbols, and see a fascinating exhibit about the Merci Train (Gratitude Train).
Did you know that each of the 48 states and Washington D.C. received a rail car full of gifts from France after WWII? You can see a display of the items that were in Arizona's boxcar at the Merci Train exhibit. The actual boxcar is located at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale.
Tip: On your way to the Museum Shop stop and compare the mosaic of the Seal of Arizona in the rotunda floor to the Seal of Arizona by the front door. What's missing on the seal on the floor? If you can't find it, ask a volunteer!
Location, Hours, Admission
The Arizona Capitol Museum is located in downtown Phoenix, at the same location as the current state capitol offices and legislature. Check out a map with directions and parking information for the Arizona State Capitol.
Arizona Capitol Museum Address
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Arizona Capitol Museum Phone
Arizona Capitol Museum Hours
The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. It is closed on state holidays.
Arizona Capitol Museum Admission
There is no charge to visit the museum.
- No food or drink is allowed. If you bring food items with you, you may leave them at the information desk and enjoy them in the 1st Floor lounge at the end of your visit.
- Photography is permitted.
The store hours are from 9:30 to 4 p.m. This is a great place to buy Arizona-themed gifts and books!
Tip: Your visit to the Arizona State Capitol Museum will probably take between an hour and two hours, with some extra time allotted for shopping at the Museum Store.