The site where Silver City is now situated was first used as an Apache campsite and later as a Spanish copper mining center. Silver City itself was founded about 1870 after the discovery of silver. The 1870s were tumultuous and the town was the site of the first crime committed by a local kid, known at the time as William Bonney, and more widely known as Billy the Kid. Silver City became a commercial center for local mining operations and also became an education center for the southwestern part of the state with the building of the New Mexico Normal School (now Western New Mexico University) in 1893.
The Silver City Museum has a permanent exhibition on Silver City’s history, including a display of an 1880s parlor and a reconstructed office from the nearby mining town of Tyrone. Other permanent displays tell about southwest New Mexico’s mining history and Silver City’s early mercantile commerce.
The museum hosts frequently changing exhibits as well as lectures and special events.
The museum’s collection includes some 20,000 objects relating to the peoples and history of southwest New Mexico. The museum also has a research library that is available to the public, along with a bookstore/gift shop.
The Silver City Museum opened in 1967. The museum is housed in the restored 1881 Mansard/Italianate H.B. Ailman house. The house was built for Harry Ailman, a prominent Silver City miner, merchant and banker. During the early 1920s, the city purchased the house for use as the town hall. In 1931, the town added a firehouse garage to the back of the building. The building was used as a fire station until about 1970.
Address: 312 W. Broadway, Silver City, NM 88061
Phone: 575-538-5921, 1-877-777-7947
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Closed Mondays.
Admission: $3 suggested donation