Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Guest Blog about Mineral Museum

Someone posted the following on It succinctly describes the value of the existing mineral museum, and is quoted here in its entirety.

"Member Blog: one2three Blog
gem and Rock museum

To close the existing Mineral and Mining Museum, to open a "flash in the pan" museum honoring Arizona's five C's - is an incredible waste of money and a waste of the knowledge and skill that went into the existing educational exhibits displayed in the Mineral museum. These exhibits open a child's mind to the wonders to be found in nature. Rocks and minerals are the history of our planet. To foster interest in the study of nature that transcends man -made borders is so important in our world today. Arizona is known for a lot more than our 5 C's - many of which are being depleted at an alarming rate. But, our rich heritage of ores, minerals and gems is as timeless as our planet. My grown children and I have lived all over the world, but our love of science and the beauty of nature has been a common interest that we have shared with other people no matter where we lived. To deprive a new generation from learning about Earth's geological bounties, is shallow and vapid. We need to realize what is important now and to the future. We do not need to be using our limited funds to impress other states that Arizona is having a birthday. Let's celebrate the gifts Arizona has given us! We have wonderful mountains, deserts, rocks, ores, and minerals. We need our Mineral and Mining Museum now and for future Arizonans to expand their minds and their interests.
Monday, March 1, 2010 at 11:58 AM"

A Great Idea!

The following viewpoint was posted on by the Arizona Preservation Foundation. It presents and excellent idea, which can be implemented at a fraction of the cost and in time for the Centennial. The viewpoint is quoted below in its entirety.

"Viewpoint: Why recognize Arizona's 5C's in only 1 place: Phoenix? Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 8:36pm

We're still trying to figure out this proposed Arizona Centennial Museum as espoused by Gov. Jan Brewer and retired Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Jones, co-chairs of the Arizona Centennial Commission (

Sure the current Arizona Mineral & Mining Museum could use some sprucing up, but why not think big? If it's the 5C's you want, then keep the Capitol Mall museum focused on "copper" (i.e., all minerals and related industries historical, current, and future) and find four other locations across the state for similar museums focused on the other 4C's: cattle, cotton, climate, and citrus.

Why muck up a good thing? Why plop everything into one building? Why does Phoenix get this museum? Why not "spread the wealth?"

Granted we do live in tough economic times, and the funding for the proposed Arizona Centennial Museum is to be 100% private sector monies. But if other communities are contemplating Centennial projects of their own, why not offer up this idea as an option?

Just an idea.."

Will a 5C Arizona Centennial Museum be Relevant in 2012?

Arizona House Bill 2251 recently established the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum which is to be constructed in the building currently occupied by the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum. The museum will celebrate the 5Cs (citrus, climate, cattle, cotton, & copper) which presumably were the origin of Arizona’s economy, and are claimed to be depicted on the state seal.

In fact, Section 20 of Article 22 of the Arizona Constitution states the following:

The seal of the State shall be of the following design: In the background shall be a range of mountains, with the sun rising behind the peaks thereof, and at the right side of the range of mountains there shall be a storage reservoir and a dam, below which in the middle distance are irrigated fields and orchards reaching into the foreground, at the right of which are cattle grazing. To the left in the middle distance on a mountain side is a quartz mill in front of which and in the foreground is a miner standing with pick and shovel. Above this device shall be the motto: "Ditat Deus." In a circular band surrounding the whole device shall be inscribed: "Great Seal of The State of Arizona", with the year of admission of the State into the Union.

Therefore, the seal artist was clearly depicting mining, cattle, and citrus (orchards). Since he drew a quartz mill behind the miner, he was obviously drawing a gold mine rather than a copper mine. Hence, the argument that the 5Cs are in the seal is flawed, although copper did eventually overtake gold as the primary mining product. Irrigated fields could indicate cotton, among other crops. But where is climate depicted? Are we to think the artist intended the sun over the mountains to signify climate, rather than the beautiful sunsets that Arizona is famous for?

Climate is also a difficult thing to quantify. The economic value of cattle, citrus, cotton, and copper is easily measured. How, however, do you measure the economic value of climate? Do visitors come here for the climate or for the scenery (ex: Grand Canyon). What about the people that come to live here because of the climate? What is the annual value of that? In 1912, when Arizona became a state, was the climate and asset or was the heat an obstacle to be overcome? Was the seal artist thinking of the heat, or the beauty of the sunset?

In fact, books on Arizona do not universally recognize the 5Cs. Some refer to the 4Cs, and do not include climate. Climate looks suspiciously like something added in long after the State seal was designed, and the sun in the seal was probably reinterpreted.

Looking then at the 4Cs that are readily measurable economic entities, how significant are they now? Going back to more representative years such as 2006 and 2007 (before the prolonged recession) shows that the 4Cs now represent but a small fraction of Arizona’s economy, and some of them have become absolutely insignificant.. ADMMR Circular 129 shows that 2007 mining production was 7.5 billion dollars (copper was 5.5 billion). Therefore, mining accounted for 3% of Arizona’s 250 billion dollar economy in 2007.

The website for the Arizona Cattlemen’s Association reports annual cattle production (ranches & feeder lots) of 437 million dollars. Therefore cattle represent 0.17% of the Arizona economy. The website shows that Arizona’s annual cotton production is 140 million dollars, or 0.056% of the states economy. Finally, AgMRC (U. of California) reports that Arizona citrus production is but 23 million, or 0.009% of the state economy.

The only one of the 4Cs that accounts for a percentage of the economy that can be measured in whole numbers is mining. Mining is also a recognizable key attribute of Arizona because Arizona is 1st in the nation in both non-fuel mineral production and in copper production. By contract, Arizona produces only 1% of the nations citrus and citrus production is declining even further. The Arizona Republic recently reported that the last Maricopa County citrus packing plant, in Mesa, closed this year. Citrus growers can no longer compete in the citrus market because of high land prices in the Valley. Meanwhile, mine production increases because of demand for Arizona’s unique natural resources. Mine production would even be increasing more rapidly if it were not for prolonged environmental studies that are preventing new mines (with tremendous reserves) from going into production.

In conclusion, mining is the only one of the 4Cs that is distinct to Arizona, and it is the only one that is still a significant portion of the state economy. The logical thing to do for the centennial would be to install special displays in the existing and top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum. That could be done for a very modest cost. Converting the building into an irrelevant 5C museum makes no sense, especially when it will cost tens of millions of dollars to do so.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Is planning for the Arizona Centennial Museum running amuck?

As described in a prior posting, State government recently transferred the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum to the Arizona Historical Society. The building currently occupied by the mineral museum will become the 5C Centennial Museum which will be managed by the Historical Society.

The law implementing the transfer states that the Centennial Museum will “house” the mineral museum, indicating that a smaller mineral museum will remain intact within a portion of the building. Early indications suggest that 5C planners do not intend to comply with that provision, and will mingle 5C displays throughout the building.

The 5C planners apparently also intend to eliminate the many educational earth science displays currently in the mineral museum. The sole source contractor for the 5G museum recently distributed a document entitled:

Arizona Centennial Project
Interpretative Content Interviews – Questionnaire
May 20, 2010

There were apparently 5 different questionnaires, one for each of the Cs (cotton, citrus, climate, copper, and cows). The copper (not mineral) questionnaire states that it is a follow up to interviews conducted by the contractor on March 11 & 12 “for the purpose of identifying communication goals of the Arizona Centennial Museum”.

There are a total of eight questions that inquire about the “emotional connection” to mining, the contributions of mining to “Arizona society”, and Arizona’s “way of life”. They also ask about environmental protection, community action, and economic activity. The questions suggest the 5C museum will be a social studies museum.

The contractor and the Centennial Commission appear to have absolutely no interest in the K-12 earth science education currently provided by the mineral museum. While social topics may have value, they are abundantly covered in many other Arizona museums. The mineral museum is the only Arizona museum providing earth science education enabling teachers to comply with state mandated earth science education standards.

Therefore, it appears, at this point, that the 5C Centennial Museum will seriously damage K-12 education.


Copper Questionnaire
The following questionnaire is a follow-up to interviews conducted on March 11 & 12, 2010 for the purpose of identifying communication goals of the Arizona Centennial Exhibition. The information provided will be used to develop preliminary interpretive outline for topics and messages to be part of an initial planning package.

Overall Goals
1. What do you think are the three most important things you want visitors to know about the Mining industry in Arizona?
2. What do you think are the three best ways visitors could emotionally connect to the Mining story in Arizona?
3. What three things would you hope visitors might do as a result of visiting this exhibition?

Main Themes

1. Formation of Arizona: What do you think are the main contributions the Mining industry has made to the formation of Arizona as a state and a society?

2. Land and its Stewardship : How do you think the Mining industry contributes to the protection and stewardship of Arizona’s environment?

3. Entrepreneurship: What do you think are the best historic and contemporary examples of entrepreneurship in the Mining industry?

4. Contributions to Society: What do you think are the Mining industry’s most significant current contributions to Arizona’s way of life?

5. Better Future: In what ways do you think the Mining industry as an economic activity is creating a better future for Arizona and the rest of the country?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum Ratings

The Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum is highly rated by many lists of top Phoenix museums and attractions. It is in a class or premium museums that includes the Heard Museum, the Arizona Science Center, and the Hall of Flame. placed the mineral museum in second place on their list of 10 best Phoenix museums. /best/2009,,,, and also include the mineral museum in their lists of 10 best Phoenix museums. includes the mineral museum on a list of 13 great museums located within the city limits of Phoenix. The 13 great museums are listed alphabetically. and both include (alphabetically) the mineral museum on their lists of 20 recommended museums in the Phoenix city limits.

The mineral museum even ranks high on list of all Phoenix attractions (not just museums). lists the mineral museum in fifth place on their list of top 10 things to see in Phoenix on a short break. and both put the mineral museum in sixth place on their list of top 10 Phoenix attractions. placed the mineral museum in 6th place on their list of 125 attractions in metro Phoenix. includes the mineral museum (9th) on their list of ten Phoenix attractions for the entire family. The museums unique attractions for children are also recognized by They include the mineral museum in their list of 101 things to do in Phoenix. Even included the mineral museum on their list of 36 museums in the Greater Phoenix (metropolitan) area (listed alphabetically).

On their website, the Central Arizona Museum Association boasts that the museum is “one of the largest and finest mineral museums in he Southwest”. The Arizona Heritage Traveler ( proclaims that the museum “commemorates the mining industry that helped build Arizona” … into “the country’s number one mining state with the largest value of non fuel mineral production”.

Further professional recognition was recently provided by Mining Engineering. They recognized the museum for preserving mining history in their January 210 issue, and awarded the curator, Dr. Jan Rasmussen, the GEM Award in their February 2010 issue.

The museum has also become an essential resource for K-12 earth science education and teacher training. All of this was achieved with minimal support from taxpayers (floor space and curators salary). All displays and programs are the result of donations and hundreds of thousand of volunteer hours provided by talented and dedicated supporters.

Unfortunately, these excellent ratings combined with a unique and essential role in K-12 earth science education have not deterred the Governors plans to effectively eliminate this museum and replace it with something very different and much more costly.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

What's Happening to the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum

On February 12, 2010 Governor Brewer entered the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum with members of the Arizona Centennial Commission and presented a “repurposing” of the mineral museum building. Using large sketches prepared by Gallagher & Associates, she explained her plan for a 5C Centennial Museum to be constructed in the same building. The 5Cs represent cattle, citrus, climate, copper, and cotton. The sketches showed exterior and interior views of the building. There was no visible trace of any of the existing displays, mining equipment, or artifacts presently in or around the museum. During a following question period, the mineral museum staff was told that the large outdoor displays (head frame, locomotive, stamp mill, etc.) would be “relocated”. However, no alternate location was identified. A mineral museum contractor subsequently estimated it would cost $250,000 to move these displays.

The Governors office purported that the change would be a budget reduction as well as a part of the centennial celebration. The mineral museum reportedly could not support the rent for the building. She claimed that increased revenue from the Centennial Museum would make it self supporting, and that “no public funds” would be used to build the new museum. However, within days, a subsequent statement from the Governors office contradicted that. That statement said the State would continue to pay the rent on the building, and the money would simply be transferred to the Arizona Historical Society budget. Furthermore, the rent budget would be increased “as necessary” because the plans included a substantial increase of the floor space in the building.

The rent argument is further discredited by what actually happens to rent money on State buildings. The rent on the mineral museum building is $525,000 per year, and it is paid to the Department of Administration which effectively acts as the landlord for state owned buildings. However, the mineral museum was purchased over 20 years ago for $170,000 and there has never been and is not a lien on it. About one million dollars was then spent on renovation, but that was not financed either. At this time, the only real cost to the State is for utilities, limited maintenance, insurance, and janitorial service. Routine maintenance has been performed by mineral museum volunteers. So where does most of the $525,000 go? It goes into a fund controlled by a joint legislative committee and is spent on whatever they choose. Lacking transparency, it is probably pork.

In truth, the mineral museum is largely self supporting. Except for the curator, all labor is provided by volunteers or is paid for by proceeds from the gift shop and lapidary shop. Even the curators’ salary is largely offset by admissions. Therefore, the only real costs to the state are a portion of the curators’ salary and the actual cost of providing the facility. The total true annual cost to the taxpayers is probably less than two hundred and fifty thousand dollars per year for utilities, limited maintenance, insurance, and janitorial service.

For that, the taxpayers get a top rated and internationally recognized mining and mineral museum. The museum is on at least ten lists of top ten museums in Phoenix and Arizona. This museum draws visitors to Phoenix, and undoubtedly brings more money into the Arizona economy that the State spends on subsidizing it. Many international visitors come to the mineral museum after attending the annual world class Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. Fifty six thousand people visited the mineral museum in 2009. About twenty five thousand were students on school tours and they have free admission. However, if just one third of the remaining thirty thousand paying visitors spend just $25 in Arizona, then the museum brings as much money into the Arizona economy as the State spends subsidizing it. Since the average out of town visitor undoubtedly spends much more that $25, the mineral museum has an obvious economic benefit.

However, the economic benefit is the least of the benefits provided to Arizona. The mineral museum also maintains a large and irreplaceable scientific mineral collection, and it operates an extensive K-12 earth science education program.

Visitors to the mineral museum see several thousand specimens on display. The complete collection includes over twenty thousand specimens. Many were collected over a hundred years ago, and have both historic and scientific value. Some came from ore bodies that no longer exist, and are irreplaceable. Mining engineers, geologists, and mineralogists use the collection for research and reference. There is also a huge collection of documents supporting the specimen collection. The specimens, supported by the data, are a priceless scientific treasurer.

The K-12 earth science education program is also vital to Arizona. State education standards specify requirements for earth science education, a topic in which most K-12 teachers have little or no training. The mineral museum provides training and materials to help teachers meet the state mandated standards. Teachers also bring over 25,000 students a year to the museum for a structured field trip which includes a classroom introduction and guided tour groups. Furthermore, the mineral museum conducts an outreach program that sends instructors to classrooms outside of Maricopa County.

Absolutely refusing to recognize any value in the existing mineral museum, the Governor pressed forward relentlessly to use the building for her pet project. Attempting to quell any opposition, she placed the entire museum staff, including volunteers, under a gag order. Then, she began pushing a bill to revise Arizona Revised Statutes 27.102B which authorized the Department of Mines and Mineral Resources to establish and maintain a mineral collection and to operate the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum. She wanted the Arizona Historical Society to manage her 5C Centennial Museum, and for some inexplicable reason she believed that required revising the statutes to transfer Arizona’s mineral collection to the historical society. Representative Russell Jones of Yuma and Senator John Nelson of Glendale helped the Governor implement this poorly conceived change to the Arizona statutes.

They first tried to sneak an amendment through on House Bill 2617. The basic bill modified water quality standards. Museum supporters managed to find this amendment, and organized opposition to the bill. Following contentious meetings with lobbyists and members of the Governors staff, the amendment was removed from the bill.

Next, the Governors staff and supporting legislators pushed House Bill 2251. This was originally a bill involving firefighters. The original bill died in House committee. The bill was then stripped of its initial content, and the desired changes to the mineral museum statute were inserted. This trick avoided both a House hearing and a House Committee vote. Even though the only thing in the bill that was still the same was the number, house rules allowed it to go to the Senate without a second House hearing.

The Senate did conduct a public hearing on the reincarnated bill, and mineral museum supporters again organized opposition. Over a dozen museum supporters spoke in opposition to the bill. The committee however, was not interested in facts. It became apparent the members had already decided how they would vote before the nuisance of a public hearing. The vote was 4 to 3 for the bill, with Senator John Nelson casting the deciding vote. While organized opposition to the bill did not influence the vote, it did embarrass the Senate committee. They in fact complained about the calls, emails, and letters they were getting.

Therefore, they offered mineral museum supporters an opportunity to negotiate an amendment to the bill. In subsequent meetings, three concessions were agreed on and added to the bill. First, the name of the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum would be retained as an entity within the 5C Centennial Museum. Second, the outdoor mining artifacts would be retained, and, third, the K-12 earth science education programs would be retained and supported. Unfortunately, a strong recommendation to clearly require appropriate scientific credentials for the curator was not clearly worded in the bill.

Subsequently, the bill was approved by both the full House and Senate, but not without further mischief. The final bill makes the Director of the Department of Mines and Mineral Resources report directly to the Governor rather than to the Board of Governors. A technical state agency is thus politicized, and the door is wide open for future political mischief. The ambiguously worded bill may also remove the lapidary shop from the museum, thereby eliminating a source of funding for the K-12 education programs.

The bill will become law on July 29, 2010, and it remains to be seen what will actually happen to the mineral collection and mining artifacts. During the Governors February presentation on the 5C Centennial Museum, she stated that each of the 5Cs would have 20% of the floor space. Subsequent information posted on the ADMMR website states that many other Arizona products will also be included. Specifically, computers, space research, and renewable energy resources are mentioned. The space remaining for minerals, mining artifacts, and earth science education is undetermined, but appears to be shrinking. A promised meeting with stakeholders to establish a floor plan was never scheduled.

While struggling to save as much as possible of the mineral museum, thought should be given to a permanent solution. Although Arizona is a major mining state, the political establishment has had no interest in recognizing that since houses became Arizona’s main cash crop. As shown by repeated housing busts, mining is a more stable part of the economy than construction. Nevertheless, State support for the mineral museum has been dwindling continuously, and state funding has been very limited even during good economies. Even as community support for the museum grew, state government showed little interest or recognition and, there have been previous attempts to eliminate the entire state portion of the mineral museum budget. To adequately and reliably continue the mission of the mineral museum far into the future, there needs to be a private mineral museum.

Fortunately, over fifty years ago, a group of individuals recognized that Arizonans most valuable and historic mineral specimens were not safe in the hands of politicians. Therefore, the best specimens currently in the mineral museum are not state property. They belong to the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum Foundation, a private 501 3(c) organization. The Foundations’ superb mineral collection provides and excellent opportunity to begin a private mineral museum. What is needed is a facility to house it. That is the easy part. A coordinated group of mineral museum supporters could raise funds for a private facility.

Unfortunately, priceless mining artifacts, a huge scientific mineral collection, and a large amount of related documentation are in the hands of the State. When House Bill 2251 becomes law, these items will be dispersed. The bill is a complete mess. It divides the mineral collection in some way, but exactly how is not clear. Some mineral specimens will be placed in the hands of non technical historical society personnel and will be at risk. Others will remain with whatever remains of the Department of Mines and Mineral Resources. Even worse, at least some specimens will be separated from supporting documentation. Mining artifacts may be transferred to the historical society, or may revert to donors who placed them at the mineral museum with restrictions.

Reestablishing the integrity of the state owned mineral collection and preserving it along with related documentation requires removing the key players behind House Bill 2251 from office and repealing the bill. Stakeholders interested in preserving Arizona’s scientific mineral collection face a formidable challenge.
However, all three of the key individuals causing so mach damage are up for reelection in 2010. They are Governor Brewer, Senator Nelson, and Representative Jones.