Mission, Vision, History & Governance
The mission of The Mining & Rollo Jamison Museums is to continue in the pursuit of excellence in the areas of regional and mining history. To achieve that purpose, the museums are commissioned to be a custodian of the past; to interpret the rich lead and zinc mining heritage of the region, as well as to preserve, interpret, and display the artifacts that define Southwest Wisconsin.
The Mining & Rollo Jamison Museums aspire to be the premiere mining and regional history museum in the Upper Midwest and to instill an appreciation of the past and a sense of place for the future.
History of the Museums
The Museum Department of the City of Platteville was established in 1964 to collect, preserve, and interpret artifacts and documents relating to the history of mining in the Upper Mississippi Lead-Zinc District. In 1966 the museum acquired the historic Rock School, Platteville's oldest extant public school building, built in 1863, and the museum began the acquisition of artifacts from the community, as well as the development of exhibits and public programs. A fire gutted the Rock School building on June 1, 1969, just days before the Mining Museum was slated to open. The Mining Museum grand opening was held August 21, 1971.
In 1972, museum staff explored for and located the long-closed Bevans Lead Mine just south of the Museum. A city referendum approved funding the excavation of the mine and, in 1976, the mine and headframe were opened to the public. The Platteville Optimists raised funds to acquire a 1931 mine locomotive which they donated to the museum. The train and passenger cars were rebuilt, and in 1978 aboveground train rides became a part of the mine tour. Today the Mining Museum is the largest museum interpreting the tri-state mining district to residents, students, and travelers.
The Rollo Jamison Museum began in Beetown, Wisconsin, as a private collection of Rollo Jamison. Jamison collected artifacts of southwestern Wisconsin history for more than 70 years, amassing a significant collection that effectively captures the 13,000-year human story of the region. No longer able to care for his collection due to his age, Jamison offered it to the City. In 1980, Platteville’s City Council accepted the collection. The Rollo Jamison Museum is located in Platteville’s first dedicated high school, built in 1905 and today Platteville's second-oldest public school building. The collections were studied, interpretive exhibits developed, educational programs instituted and the Rollo Jamison Museum opened to the public in 1981. Since then additional artifacts have been donated by area citizens eager to see that local history is preserved and that this story is available to area school children, residents, and visitors.
The museum is a department of the City of Platteville, with its staff reporting to the City Manager. Leadership is provided by two boards – The Friends of The Mining & Rollo Jamison Museums and the City of Platteville Museum Board – which participate in museum strategic planning and assist with implementing projects and programs.
The Friends of The Mining & Rollo Jamison Museums are the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that serves as the membership organization for the Museums and provides fundraising, financial support, volunteers, promotion, and other public support for the Museums.
The City of Platteville Museum Board is an official board of the City of Platteville. The Museum Board sets policies for all aspects of The Mining & Rollo Jamison Museums relating to maintenance, staffing, public utility and the disbursements of monies belonging to the City of Platteville Museum Fund. Its responsibilities are governed by ordinance per Wisconsin State Statute 229.11 - 229. 18 and City of Platteville Code 3.22.
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