Founded as a nonprofit organization in 1957, the Mariposa Museum began as a collection of family treasures donated by local residents who wanted the stories of early Mariposa to be preserved for posterity. A state-of-the-art archival vault was added in 2001 to preserve the most vulnerable objects from deterioration as well as to act as a repository for Mariposa County's oldest legal documents. Our little museum is so rich in history that it was recognized by the Smithsonian Institute as one of the best small museums in America.
The Museum portrays the people and life style of Mariposa County from the Native American Indians and Spanish explorers, to the infamous California Gold Rush days as well as the recent past with exuberant authenticity. Original documents, artifacts, artwork, gold displays, and Native American baskets are just a few items which encompass our collection. Outdoor displays include an operational 5-stamp gold ore mill and a large array of other mining equipment, as well as historical buildings that have been brought to our location from around Mariposa. Inside exhibits include an extensive Miwok Indian display, a one room miner's cabin, an assay office, an authentic Mother Lode saloon, a one-room school, and furniture belonging to the West's most famous explorer and Mariposa County resident, John C. Fremont and his wife, Jessie. The museum also houses a research library for persons interested in historical and genealogical research.