The Park City Museum is an award-winning museum and local staple full of surprises located on Historic Main Street. The Museum is a nonprofit organization dedicated to Preserving, Protecting, and Promoting Park City's rich history and culturally significant sites. The museum has had a solid 40-year history as one of Utah's most popular and successful cultural anchors that have resulted in numerous awards, accolades, and regular inclusion in National and International travel guides as a Top Ten Park City attraction.
The purpose of the Park City Museum is to:
- Professionally interpret Park City and regional western history through engaging exhibitions and lively educational events;
- Actively research and record the history of Park City and its environs; and
- Promote and advocate the preservation of Park City’s important history and historic sites.
If you want to know anything about Park City’s past you must understand the steep history of its mining roots and the Park City Museum does just that! It helps take visitors on a journey to explore and discover Park City’s past and what to expect from the future. Prospectors discovered silver in 1868 in the area that soon after became Park City. Park City became the center of one of the top three metal mining districts in the state during Utah's mining boom of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and it is one of the major metal mining communities that has survived to the present day. Our mining heritage is widely celebrated with the preservation of relics in places like Old Town and across our mountain’s ski resorts. Once silver prices began to decline, Park City reinvented itself as a ski resort town. At the Park City museum, you will take a peek into the past of our town’s unique history and come out understanding the true spirit of our mountain town.
How The Museum Got Started and What It Does
Originally established in 1981 as the Park City Historical Society, the museum began as a small local historical exhibit funded by the city in the old City Hall on Main Street for the town's Centennial Celebration in 1984. The exhibit was a great success and lead to the Historical Society taking over operations of the exhibit, and creating the Park City Museum.
The Museum is housed partly inside the historic City Hall which was completed at a cost of $6,400 in 1885, one year after Park City was incorporated as a city. The 1880s were a time of great growth and prosperity and many new buildings were erected on Main Street during this time. The City Hall also housed the Police and Fire Departments and the Territorial Jail. Then in 1898, the Great Fire raged down Main Street destroying almost everything in its path leaving only the front facade, partial side walls, and the Territorial Jail standing. In 1901 the Whistle Tower was built to warn citizens and the volunteer firemen of fire in the area. The bell was replaced by an electric siren that required testing every day. Park City chose 10 pm and soon the test siren evolved into a curfew for the town's youngsters. The siren still faithfully sounds at 10 pm to this day.
During the 2002 Winter Olympics, the growing popularity of heritage tourism and historic destination travel was evident with over 25,000 tourists visiting the Park City Museum during those 10 days. After the Olympics, the Park City Museum Board of Trustees recognized the need to grow in order to better present Park City's fascinating history in a more comprehensive and professional showcase. In 2009 the museum completed a three-year restoration and expansion project transforming the historic building into a remarkable regional history center. It is one of Park City's most popular attractions with more than 130,000 visitors walking through the doors annually. Visitors of the museum are repeatedly surprised at the caliber of the exhibits and constantly express their enthusiasm.
In 2017 the Park City Museum opened the doors of its second large project, the new Education & Collections Center in Prospector Square. This new facility features a large gathering space which has allowed the museum to broaden its popular lecture series and other special events. The new building also provides a large, environmentally controlled storage area for treasured historical items and photos that are not currently on display. Completing the organization’s four entities is their ownership of the historic Glenwood Cemetery, a five-acre final resting place for some of Park City's first families, and their ongoing Preservation Project: Friends of Park City Ski Mining History which is restoring a number of the area's old mining buildings that represent the first chapters of Park City’s story.
Whether you are a visitor or a local you will most definitely learn something new about Park City’s history when you visit the Park City Museum. The museum constantly runs new exhibits for guests to learn about and explore the historical significance of Park City.
Within The Park City Museum, you will find The Tozer Gallery which offers yet another reason to come back to the Museum again and again. With over 1,000 square feet the gallery showcase children’s and guest-curated exhibitions plus thought-provoking national traveling exhibitions featuring the best of contemporary study while sharing some facet of Park City’s history and community.
In the museum’s permanent gallery you can't miss the Mega Mine exhibit - a two-story tall cross-section of a working Park City mine that represents 1,000 feet of a mine operation, where you can examine shafts, tunnels, and elevators and see how the various ores and silvers would have been transported by cart into Park City itself. In addition, to view the architecture of the historic building you must visit the basement where you will find Park City’s original territorial jail with its original jail cells. Hear stories about “guests” who visited these cells, and learn about some of Park City’s more dangerous criminals.
Things The Museum Is Looking Forward To
Executive Director, Morgan Pierce, is hopeful that there is a light at the end of this COVID tunnel and that there will be a return to some signature programs and outdoor events. Make sure to stay posted for upcoming plans from the museum on their summer programming. A big event the museum is looking forward to this summer is that their preservation arm, Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History, will have another success story for the preservation of historic mine structures with the plan to raise the Daly West Head Frame, located by Deer Valley, behind the Montage, which fell several years ago.
Park City Museum Information
Museum Members: FREE!
Seniors 65+, Students, Military: $11
Children: $5 (age 7-17)
Children 6 and under: Free
Hours 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, 7 days a week