The Copper State Heritage Museum isn't about honoring one culture that influenced the local area but a series of cultures that have made Coolidge an "Arizona Melting Pot" with each representing different parts of the overall area and its rich heritage, We want to make sure the visitor to this site also undertands that we desire to share the culture and heritage of the region by becoming a center for learning and understanding.
This local area is rich in archeological history which includes both the pre-historic and current peoples of the Ancient Sonoran Desert People. We choose to recognize the influence of their Native American culture in the local area. Coolidge has a very strong and vibrant Hispanic culture that can be seen in the many influences on the daily life of the area people. While in many ways it represents part of the dark history of the area, African Americans came to Randolph, AZ located a few miles South of Coolidge. The community began as a segregated town for African American cotton workers during the great migration period from 1930-1950 and have left their footprint on the history and culture.
The early days of Coolidge was all about cotton. Cotton was king and Coolidge was the center of cotton growing in Arizona. Along with cotton and the farming community with its rich traditions came the cowboys- ranching was a lively part of the rich heritage of the area. Put them in a pot, mix gently and what you have as you pour out the contents today is a wonderful blend of cultures that make Coolidge and the surrounding area what it is today.
The Copper State Heritage Museum is a division of the Coolidge Performing Arts Center Foundation, Inc, a non-profit, tax exampt 501 (c)(3) charitable foundation which is a center of excellence for the performing and cultural arts. This museum will work closely with many educational educational institutions both locally and state-wide. Various organizations and private individuals have been making donations of exhibits to the Museum. Funding will be provided in part through regional and state grants as well as individuals. During 2016, Vicky Skousen Shaw became the curator of the museum and has been responsible for developing the exhibits.
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Vicky Skousen Shaw is no newcomer to Coolidge as she was raised in the area, went to school here and is part of the Skousen farm family; well known in the area with a distinctive and long family connection to Coolidge. Vicky went off to college to study history and art and following came into the classroom to teach history as well as Arizona history.
Vicky became the curator of the Copper State Heritage Museum when it was only a closed, shabby classroom in the Artisan Village and has transformed it into a small but representative museum that grows every day. She says that researching the Museum and developing the collection has been an eye-opening experience for her as she has gained a new perspective on the area where she was raised. The work that she is doing with the collection is focused upon showing the meshing of the various cultures with their rich heritage that influenced and contributed to the community.