Friday, April 1, 2011

Arizona Historical Society preparing to entertain legislature

As the Arizona legislature is rocked by the Fiesta Bowl scandal, the AHS and the Arizona Centennial 2012 Foundation are preparing to provide both the governor’s office and the legislature with alternate entertainment. The 5C Arizona Centennial Museum is already a year behind schedule and 50% over budget. However, as shown on the Foundation website ( it remains their number one signature project. Since it cannot possibly be open in time for Arizona’s Centennial anymore, it has simply been renamed the Arizona Experience Museum.

Few people visit AHS museums. With a budget of $6 million and a reported annual attendance of 30,000, the AHS is currently operating with a taxpayer subsidy of $200 per visitor. So why this determined push to build yet another history museum no matter what the schedule, relevance, or cost? Because the objective is not really a museum. The high dollar museum displays are just a facade to justify the use of tax dollars to build another entertainment center. The model for the new museum is the Marley Center Museum in Tempe (AKA the Museum at Papago Park). The multimillion dollar, once high tech museum displays are somewhat hidden in a state of disrepair on the second floor. Except for a glass room containing some of Judge Sandra Day O’Connor’s gowns, there is no hint of a museum around the outside of the “museum” or anywhere on the first floor. The Marley is an event (entertainment) center featuring a cocktail bar, party rooms, and an auditorium.

Likewise, the Arizona Experience Museum plans include a cocktail bar, an event area, and auditorium. Available sketches and planning documents do not yet specifically show a cocktail bar, but AHS and governor’s office representatives have said that is part of the plan. The wonderful thing about the Arizona Experience museum is that it will be on the Capitol mall within easy walking distance of the Capitol, House and Senate. TheAHS will no longer have to rely solely on the efforts of their taxpayer paid lobbyist to maintain their overly generous budget and fat six figure salaries. They will be able to entertain the legislature and the governor’s staff in style with free lunches, free drinks, and other goodies.

House and Senate have both been supporting this capitol mall water hole, and it is obviously one of the Governor’s priorities. Since senators and representatives may have fewer Fiesta bowl junkets to enjoy in the near future, the Arizona Experience Museum can be expected to become an even higher priority. The bar will be a great place to drown their sorrow over losing their Fiesta freebies.

The Foundation’s website says the following: In collaboration with the State of Arizona and the Arizona Historical Society, the centerpiece of the Centennial is the Arizona Experience Museum. Designed with the idea that Arizona’s past will lead us to our future as a state, the new museum will raise the bar for museum experiences in Arizona and is destined to become an attraction for residents and visitors alike.

Yes indeed, it will certainly “raise the bar”.

1 comment:

  1. It's pretty simple. It will be a great place to have a cocktail party. a Centennial bash (if its open in time)maybe a couple of weddings or business dinner parties. But I dont see a lot of history exhibits happening there.
    Whatever happened to the exhibit designer the Marley Center had. Someone had to design all of those boring, non working "interactive" exhibits? Ohh... he's at the Riordon House Museum in Flagstaff taking admissions and scheduling tours and rentals.