From fossils to early slot machines, 10,000 years of Nevada history comes to life in this vast collection of artifacts, manuscripts, photographs and film.
Established in 1904, the Nevada Historical Society is the Silver State’s oldest museum. The collections include prehistoric times, the coming of white settlers and the challenges they faced, and the gambling and mining industries that continue to shape Nevada today.
The museum has two permanent exhibitions that trace Nevada’s history. Nevada: Prisms and Perspectives, follow five diverse but interrelated lives, which represent the native Nevadans, gold miners, travelers, gamblers and federal officers who have shaped Nevada. The other exhibit, Biggest Little City in the World, tells the history of Reno through an extensive collection of local artifacts and interesting stories.
There are some great displays of Native American artifacts, toys and early prospecting equipment. The city’s gaming heritage is also represented by an assortment of casino souvenirs, gambling cheating devices, early neon signs and show-girl costumes. Look out for the much-loved, but rather macabre, Six Legged Dan and Two Headed Slim. This stuffed Siamese calf has been a museum resident for over 60 years and is always a hit with kids.
Alongside the permanent displays are special exhibitions that change on a regular basis. You’ll may find fine arts or film, and the museum is a staunch supporter of local artists. (Check the website for current exhibits.)
The Nevada Historical Society maintains an extensive library containing manuscripts, documents and books. The photographic collection alone contains about 300,000 photographs covering subjects from ghost towns to atomic testing.
Check out the museum store, which has an extensive selection of local art, jewelry and Nevada -themed books and souvenirs.
The Nevada Historical Society is near the Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center on the University of Nevada Reno campus, about five minutes' drive north of downtown. There is free parking next to the building. You can also get there on the Sierra Spirit bus from downtown.
The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday, except for state holidays.