Built on the actual prehistoric site of the ancestral Puebloans, the Lost City Museum tells the stories of Nevada’s first permanent residents between AD 200 to AD 1200. Tools, pottery, and other artifacts – recovered from the on-site excavation pit – offer a glimpse of Puebloan life in the region for centuries, while basketry and contemporary regional art highlight lasting links between culture, then and now.
The Archaeology of Lost City
The artifacts tell a fascinating story of another time, when an ancient civilization traveled through and lived modern-day southern Nevada for centuries. Archaeologists have worked tirelessly for decades to uncover and study these pieces of the past, to give us a glimpse of what life would’ve been like for the first Native Nevadans in the exotic Mojave Desert.
But, the ancient pueblo cluster (or village,) that’s housed at the Lost City isn’t the only interesting thread of history going on at this Nevada State Museum. The Lost City Museum originally opened as the Boulder Dam Park Museum in 1935, and was built thanks to the unwavering work ethic of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Interestingly enough, this was their first work in the nation that encompassed archaeological field work, but that’s another story. The reason they were tasked with building such a fascinating place? The area surrounding the newly built Hoover Dam was chock full of priceless, vital artifacts that would soon be filled with water with the implementation of Lake Mead. This lake—the largest man made reservoir in the nation—would soon submerge archaeological sites dating prehistory, and it became glaringly vital to create a place to house such important relics.
Visiting the Lost City Museum Today
When visiting the Lost City Museum, pay attention to the pottery, shells, jewelry, and impressive basketry, but remember to zero in on the most prominent and valuable feature the museum houses: the Pueblo cluster that’s built directly on the foundation of an excavated archaeological site and is an undoubted fascinating glimpse into the life of an Ancestral Puebloan who first populated southern Nevada around 300 B.C. Bask in the hard work the CCC boys logged to build the museum (after all, it’s still the same exact structure from the 1930s) discover petroglyphs, replica pueblos, a reconstructed pit house, historic farm equipment and mesmerizing desert gardens.
And, rely on getting up close and personal with this amazing thread of Nevada history with permanent exhibits. Discover ancient rhythms with Daily Life of the Ancestral Puebloans, and explore natural and human innovation with three exhibits: The Proof is in the Pots, Southern Nevada Landscapes of Change, and Lost Cities of Southern Nevada. Experience this site’s incredible journey and the work that brought it to life in the exhibits Uncovering the Past – Archaeology of the Lost City and The Excavation of an Ancestral Pueblo House.
The Lost City Museum is located about 70 miles northeast of the Las Vegas Strip, just south of the town of Overton, and a stone’s throw from Valley of Fire State Park and Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
The Lost City Museum is open through Sunday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Closed Monday and Tuesday, and on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, and New Years Day.
Admission to the Nevada State Museum—Carson City is free to all Museum Members! If you are not a member, admission is $5 for Adults & Seniors, free for children 17 and under.