Arizona Showcases its Greatest Treasure in Clarkdale
This is a Northern Arizona Spotlight: Copper Art Museum You might be surprised to see what they've done to the old Clarkdale High School. Inside the unassuming gray exterior is the Copper Art Museum, Arizona's newest museum featuring American and European copper art and collections for study ranging from the 16th - 20th centuries. This incredible collection is both a commemoration of our "Copper State" as well as a celebration of the artistic man-made creations from the red-metal.
Clarkdale is the perfect location for Copper Art Museum because of its convergence of rich history as a copper mining town as well as the structural elegance that remains from the City Beautiful movement. Senator W. A. Clark first established Clarkdale in the early 20th century as a company-town and built housing for his United Verde Copper Company (UVCC) smelter. Also in the early 1900's areas of the United States were experiencing a period now call "City Beautiful" which was a movement in urban planning referring to the construction of monumental grandeur to promote an American style and civic virtue.
On display are artifacts made by "coppersmiths, soldier artists and braziers; many of whom were masters in their trade," states Drake Meinke, the creative mind behind Copper Art Museum. Visitors can easily spend hours marveling at the vast collection as they move around the six exhibit sections split into Information Room, Military Art Room, Art & Architecture Room, which includes a Religious Art Room, Kitchenware Collection, Drinkware Collection, and Distillery & Winery.
Stepping into the Military Art Room visitors are surrounded by Trench Art, or art created using artillery shells by soldiers during WWI. The intricate details on each shell seems to play a sort of optical illusion masking the volatile casings as delicate table decorations.
It was Drake Meinke's mother, the second generation of antique dealers, whose fascination with copper art pieces now fills each exhibit room of the museum. "When she was selling at the shows, she started to focus more on copper items and getting away from just generalized antiques, like glass and ceramics," Meinke said. "From the 80s and 90s, she was more into just copper artifacts."
It took Meinke nine solid years of searching, planning, and constructing before finally opening in the old Clarkdale HS last December. "We refurbished the floors, the walls, the ceiling, the roof, the plumbing, the electricity, the bathrooms, painting," he said. "We've done absolutely everything to include 450 panes of glass that were broken or plastic that we replaced in the building,"
Just shy of celebrating one year since opening its doors, Copper Art Museum has become a popular destination. Most recently, the museum has won the 2014 Governor’s Tourism Award. The Arizona Preservation award is presented to the individual, organization, or community making the most significant contribution in preserving some aspect of the natural, cultural, or aesthic legacy of Arizona.
Check out Clarkdale's newest destination featuring Arizona's greatest treasure, now on display daily! Group prices, individual prices and docent tours available.