MISSION & HISTORY
To identify Arizona as the Copper State using artwork as the evidence. To present the world's most beautiful metal by acquiring, preserving, educating, and displaying works of coppersmiths from around the world.
To inspire visitors and create memories about the Copper State that will never be forgotten.
1958 The Spark
The Arizona Copper Art Museum originated from a simple spark. In 1958, John and Patricia Meinke of Minnesota saw in an antique shop several copper molds that captivated them. Later, Pat opened a small antique shop and kickstarted today's massive collection displayed in this museum.
1970-2003 Copper Dealer
The shop eventually closed in favor of selling copperware at antique shows, primarily in large cities throughout the U.S.A.; copper items were mostly obtained in Europe. In 1978, their son, Drake, joined the business and started his collection.
John and Pat Meinke, c. 1951
2000 Thoughts of a Museum
Over the years, both collections grew in size and prominence, and the family envisioned sharing these acquisitions with the public. A museum concept then evolved with a focus on connecting to an appropriate community with a foundation built around copper. Thus, the artifacts would make a nostalgic impact, and a significant museum would be realized.
2002 Museum Establishment
The founders, Pat and Drake, then contributed all resources necessary for the museum’s establishment. The two existing collections and the idea provided the basis of the museum.
2000 Finding the Best State - Arizona
A two-year survey was conducted to find the best location within the U.S.A. for a museum of copper art. Since the museum had to connect to its location, copper-producing states were contenders. Arizona, nicknamed the Copper State, was easily chosen being the largest copper producer in the nation.
Finding the Perfect Town
Many towns in Arizona had potential; however, Clarkdale, having the most profound copper connection in the country, was chosen. Clarkdale’s entire foundation was embedded in copper, as it was a massive producer. The town is home to several tourism establishments that added viability to the concept.
Copper cookware collection c.1998
Cradle of Civilization
Copper is the oldest and one of the most important metals in the world. It has been at our side since civilization began and has helped us thrive at every step of human history. It was used in almost everything, and this museum’s collection stands as evidence.
Clarkdale’s sole purpose was to produce copper by utilizing the area's natural resources. Employees of the copper company had a deep-rooted connection to copper as they were the beginnings of an unknown journey that spanned the world. However, all of the copper in Clarkdale was exported, and no one ever saw its beauty or the outcome of the metal.
Smelter employees c.1930
Museum Grand Opening
The museum is an official Arizona Centennial Legacy Project and opened as part of Arizona’s and Clarkdale’s mutual centennial celebrations of 2012. This museum reveals how copper was fashioned into artwork while on its journey around the world. To show this, copper was brought back to the Copper State.
2014 - Present Museum Ranks Among the Nation’s Best
The museum won the 2014 Arizona Governor’s Tourism Award within the first year. The museum has also rocketed to the top 1% of 4,500 attractions in Arizona and rates within the top 1% of 35,000 museums nationally, per travel website ratings.