Sunday, March 20, 2011

Students unhappy with Arizona centennial plans

The number one “signature” project of the Arizona Centennial Foundation is the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum featuring cotton and cows. However, it has recently been renamed the Arizona Experience museum because it can never be open for Arizona’s Centennial. It is a year behind schedule and 50% over budget.

Nevertheless, the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum is being closed June 1st because the Centennial Foundation plans to use the same building for the centennial / experience museum. The Foundation will not answer phone calls or letters. No one knows what will happen to the irreplaceable mineral collection or the historic mining equipment.

Harrison and Naomi are unhappy. They love the mineral museum and cannot understand why the Arizona Centennial Foundation and the Arizona Historical Society want to destroy the top rated mineral museum and its K-12 earth science education programs.

Harrison likes to look at the fluorescent mineral display. The rocks and minerals radiate many beautiful colors as they are energized with ultraviolet light. He also likes the precious metal displays featuring gold, silver and platinum, and the beautiful gemstone displays featuring tourmaline and beryl. Special favorites are the awesome orange and yellow wulfenite crystals collected in Arizona’s old lead mines. Arizona is world famous for these wulfenite crystals, and they cannot be replaced. They came from rich and historic underground ore veins that no longer exist.

Naomi likes the old baby gauge steam locomotive that hauled copper ore in Morenci long before Arizona was a state. She hopes the historical society does not scrap it. She also enjoys the interactive micro mount display. Each time she pushes the big button, a new miniature crystal specimen is positioned under a microscope. A camera displays the crystal on a large monitor where it becomes hundreds of times larger. This beautiful crystal display is her favorite.

Parents are not happy either. Harrison’s father said “The mineral museum has played a large role in our families’ life of connecting me to my sons and our common interest. The museum has been a focal point, a physical representation of our commonly held love of minerals and mineral collecting. I gave guest lectures at Harris’ school every year to 3rd and 4th graders about geology and minerals. I have stacks of letters from kids saying how much they love minerals and want to continue to learn about them. Our school is one of the schools that participate in the educational tours at the museum every year. This is not some esoteric loss for me; this is a real and tangible loss of something precious.”

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