Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Should the Arizona Historical Society be applauded?

In her May 30 Arizona Republic editorial, Governor Mofford stated:

I, for one, support and applaud Dr. Anne Woosley and each member of the Historical Society for the contributions they have made in the past and for the actions they are taking now to preserve our history for the future citizens of the great state of Arizona.

Is Rose Mofford’s applause appropriate?

In the past the AHS spent $30 million taxpayer dollars building the Marley Center Museum in Tempe. Anyone who thinks that is a contribution meriting applause should look at it, its notorious history as documented by the news media, its current state budget, and its visitor’s log. Even the AHS appears embarrassed by this underperforming museum. It is currently attempting to rebrand it as the History Museum at Papago Park.

Now the AHS is destroying one of Arizona’s top rated and top performing museums, the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum. Using political connections rather than community support, they gained control of this museum and are erasing a centerpiece of Arizona’s mining heritage.  Perhaps they just wanted the building, or perhaps they wanted to eliminate the embarrassment of being outclassed by the efficiency and dedication of the volunteers and self-supported employees at the mineral museum. The AHS has never operated a museum that efficiently, and has never produced a top rated museum in spite of very generous state funding.

Hold the applause.

Mofford: Thanks to many, memorabilia to go to Globe, Miami
Rose Mofford
Opinions (My Turn) – Arizona Republic, May. 30, 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011

What is the Arizona Historical Society doing to Rose Mofford?

In her May 30 “My Turn” editorial in the Arizona Republic, Governor Mofford wrote:

 Discussions regarding relocation of the museum commenced with Anne (Woosley) last year. Although the time line for relocation has recently been accelerated, our discussions have been cooperative and designed to benefit all parties concerned. Relocation of my collection from the Mining and Mineral Museum now (rather than later) is necessary to allow the state to complete renovations of the Mining and Mineral Museum in time for the centennial celebration. …….. I do not envy the difficult tasks that Anne and the Historical Society must complete to be ready for Feb. 14, 2012.

However, in an April 18, 2011 interview on KAET  Channel 8s Horizon program, Anne Woosley told Ted Simons that the centennial museum is scheduled to open in November of 2012.  That is nine months later that the initial February 14, 2012 opening date (Arizona's centennial) initially promised by Governor Brewer.

Why has the removal of Governor Moffords collection been “accelerated”?

When is the centennial museum expected to open?

How can the schedule be “accelerated” when only a small fraction of the needed $15.75 million has been raised?

Mofford: Thanks to many, memorabilia to go to Globe, Miami
Rose Mofford
Opinions (My Turn) – Arizona Republic, May. 30, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Arizona Historical Society cheated customers

The AHS gained control of the top rated and self-supporting Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum in July 2010.  Funding for paid staff members were derived from admission, gift shop sales, and lapidary shop fees. Lapidary shop fees included fees for related classes.

When the AHS closed the museum without notice on April 30, there were ongoing classes. They included lapidary, faceting, silver smithing and casting. Students in all of these classes were locked out without notice and were cheated out of their class fees.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Arizona centennial to feature smells and vibrations

The Arizona centennial museum (AKA Arizona Experience) has been a museum in search of theme for nearly the last two years. First, it was (and still is by law) to feature the 5Cs, including cotton and cows. Then, the now defunct ADMMR website said it was to also feature technology, including solar panels and spacecraft. After that, the Arizona Centennial 2012 Foundation website said it would be story telling museum. Then, in a KAET 8 interview, an AHS spokesperson said it would be about “imagining the future”. Now, a new Foundation website just introduced an even more peculiar theme.

On http://az100years.org, the page on the Arizona Experience Museum says it will provide a multisensory immersion into the past, present, and future. There will be sights, sounds, and even smells and vibrations. How did they miss taste?  A $15.75 million museum constructed in an existing building should at least be complete.

The first floor plan shows displays featuring land, water, sky, mind, body, inspire, and remember. The second floor will feature celebrate, innovate, play, and a 500 square foot mineral gallery. Since Judge Charles E. Jones, President of the Foundation,  promised (in the Arizona Republic) that the complete Arizona mineral collection will be preserved, this galley will presumably be packed solid form floor to ceiling. Visitors will probably just have to imagine what is in the pile.

The centennial museum (with absolutely no chance of being open for the centennial) is steadily progressing from the trite, to the strange, to the absolutely bizarre.  Unfortunately, it will not simply be an irresponsible waste of money. The floor plan confirms that it is displacing and destroying the top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum and its very successful and self-supporting K-12 science education programs.

The most unique part of Arizona’s heritage is being scrapped.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Is Governor Brewer directing an illegal centennial project?

The minutes for the March 2011 Arizona Historical Society Board meeting include the following:

Woosley said the main focus continues to involve the Arizona Experience (Centennial museum). - - - - - Woosley noted that AHS must be patient over the next 12-18 months because this project is moving outside the usual processes and is directed by the Governor’s office, Centennial Foundation, and Arizona Department of Administration. Meetings with the architects and designers are held twice a month.

The May 10th post described the illegal aspects of the centennial museum project. Now, it is apparent that the AHS is no longer directing the project. Someone in the Governor’s office is. Does that individual know they are directing illegal activities?

After the contentious senate public hearing on the centennial museum bill, the following individuals participated in a meeting to prepare an amendment. The amendment included the mineral museum protecting provisions that are now being violated.

  • ·         Anne Woosley – Director, AHS 
  • ·         Jim Norton – Lobbyist, AHS
  • ·         Lyn White – Arizona Centennial Foundation
  • ·         Michael Anable – Policy Advisor on Natural Resources

In addition, the following individual expressed detailed knowledge of the mineral museum protecting provisions of the law in an editorial written for the Arizona Republic (see July 10th post).

  • ·         Judge Charles E. Jones  -- AZ Centennial Foundation

Mr. Anable left the governor’s office in May, 2010 after the centennial museum bill passed the house and senate but before the Governor signed it. There may have been a loss of information within the governor’s office following Mr. Anable’s departure, but what is happening now?

Is someone within the governor’s office knowingly directing illegal activity?

Have the knowledgeable AHS and Centennial Foundation members not informed the governor’s office of the legal problems?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Arizona’s botched centennial celebration

On May 17, State officials broke ground for their Centennial Way project that will “re-dress” a mile and a half of West Washington Street in Phoenix.  The existing sidewalk will be torn up and replaced with one including decorations. Bike paths, shade structures, and Palo Verde trees will be added. Strange “streetscapes” will pay tribute to the 15 counties. A “Tribal Walk” will honor 22 Indian tribes.  Federal stimulus money will be used to pay for most of the “facelift”.

The “Tribal Walk” is most appropriate. Other than for a few winos, indigenous Indians were probably the last people to walk along Washington Street. There is no pedestrian traffic. The project will become Arizona’s $7.1 million dollar sidewalk for no one.

Unfortunately, this “signature project” is not the Arizona Centennial commission’s greatest folly. Their “number one signature project” is the Arizona Centennial Museum (AKA Arizona Experience). The purpose and theme of this museum have never been clearly defined. Initially, it was to feature the 5Cs, and that is what the statute authorizing it states. More recently, the theme has been a change each time a Centennial Commission member makes a statement of presentation about it. In general, it will be a repeat of the awful mistakes made by the $30 million Marley Center Museum in Tempe.

Even worse, it will displace the top rated and historic (1884) Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum and its highly popular and self-supporting K-12 science education programs. Even though only a small percentage of the funds have been raised for this $15 million dollar boondoggle, the mineral museum has already been closed. Arizona’s unique mining heritage is being sacrificed for a centennial bauble that can never be open for the centennial. It may never open. Even if it does, it’s planned high dollar interactive displays will be junk in a decade, just like the ones in Marley Center.

Arizona’s botched centennial celebration is destroying a key element of Arizona’s history.

Cash- short Arizona makes do with modest centennial
Paul Davenport
The Arizona Capitol Times, May 17, 2011

State breaks ground on centennial project
Jeremy Duda
The Arizona Capitol times, May 17, 2011

“Centennial Way” in downtown Phoenix will honor Arizona statehood
Streetscape project to include displays, ‘Tribal Walk’
Ginger rough
The Arizona Republic, May 18, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Have tax dollars ruined the Arizona Historical Society?

On May 16th, KAET 8s Horizon program presented a story entitled; Arizona Centennial: Arizona Military Museum. Their summary was as follows:

Designated as an official Arizona Centennial Legacy Project, the Arizona Military Museum chronicles the military history of Arizona. Museum Director Joe Abodeely shares some of that history as he describes what the museum has to offer.

The military museum is only 25 years old and has no state budget. The only assistance it gets is the use of the historic adobe building on the Arizona National guard military reservation. It is operated by unpaid volunteers whose energy and enthusiasm have made this a highly rated Arizona attraction. As an example, www.tripadvisor .com ranked it number 66 on its list of best 109 tourist attractions in Phoenix.

Like the Arizona Military Museum, the Arizona Mining and Mineral museum was only provided the use of a building. It was staffed with a combination of volunteers and employees paid with gift shop proceeds. It was ranked number 23 on trip advisors list of 109 best Phoenix attractions.

The military and mineral museums both became highly successful with minimal state support. By contrast, the Arizona Historical Society has not performed well even though it receives ample state support. Its $6 million budget includes a $1.6 million payroll and an additional $ 0.7 million in employee related expenses. Despite having many museums across the state, its staff of 40 to 50 state paid workers has not produced a top rated museum.

Has the generous support provided by Arizona tax payers made them soft and lazy?

Note: The 6/7/2010 and 4/26/2011 posts identify the many high ratings received by the mineral museum

Monday, May 16, 2011

Arizona’s Non-centennial Centennial Museum

The Appendix to the May 10th post included the Arizona statute that established the Arizona Centennial Museum.  A transcript of a subsequent interview with a representative of the Arizona Historical Society follows. That representative was present at Senate meetings and hearings that established the law.

KAET 8 Transcript:
Arizona Centennial Museum, Host: Ted Simons, April 18, 2011

The latest on plans to transform the state’s Mining and Mineral Museum into a Centennial Museum from Anne Woosley, executive director of the Arizona Historical Society.

Ted Simons: Next February, Arizona celebrates its 100th birthday. And each month, as the centennial approaches, "Horizon" takes a look at what's being done to mark the occasion, along with key moments in our state's history. Tonight, we focus on plans for a new centennial museum. Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill last May that set some ground rules for the museum. It's supposed to include information about the five Cs -- citrus, cotton, cattle, climate and copper -- that were critical to Arizona's growth and development. And it will be operated by the Arizona historical society in the building that now houses the Arizona mining and mineral museum. Here now to tell us more about the centennial museum is Dr. Anne Woosley, executive director of the Arizona historical society. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

Anne Woosley: Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons: What is the centennial museum designed to do?

Anne Woosley: Well you're correct, the genesis of the Arizona centennial museum is Arizona's 100th year of statehood and the beginnings, when we first started talking about it, we were looking at modern Arizona, what created the Arizona that we have today? What are the foundations of our contemporary modern statehood? And those were the five Cs. Those are the five Cs. But then as we talked about more, we realized that, you know, looking at the past is not really what the main goals of the centennial museum are to be. History and looking at the past, although it's very interesting and there are wonderful, wonderful stories, history -- history is really about is learning and imagining the future. And so from that original five C concept, we began thinking much more broadly looking at Arizona today, how it's been shaped, and what we hope for Arizona to evolve into the future. And so, now, the five Cs have expanded into an Arizona that -- that we hope to create, as citizens of the state, whether it's biotech, whether it's emerging technologies. Whether it's -- whether it is other kinds of industries that we're not even think about at the moment.

Ted Simons: Thus the name change the Arizona experience?

Anne Woosley: Exactly right.

Ted Simons: Ok. There are other museums out there, the Arizona capital museum. Historical society has some museums as well. Why is this museum necessary, A, and B, will this museum take business away from some of those others?

Anne Woosley: Well, we hope it will add to the family of museums that we already have. And you mentioned the capital museum and Phoenix, Maricopa County and for that matter, the entire state, has wonderful museums all around the state. What this museum is different, if you like, because that's really what you're asking me, why do we need another museum, this museum is about Arizona. This museum focuses on not just Arizona in the past, but it focuses on who we are, what we do, what we can contribute. And by that, I'm talking about our citizens, our children, and what we can bring to Arizona in terms of visitor interest. So this museum is -- this museum looks at the cultural landscape of Arizona. This museum looks at the landscape of Arizona. How Arizonans play, how they work, and so it is very intimate and it's focused on Arizona. It's not focused on a tiny sliver of the past. It's not focused on a more generic kind of message. This is focused on Arizona.

Ted Simons: I have to ask you because the mining and mineral museum is going to be used for this particular museum.

Anne Woosley: Correct.

Ted Simons: Why is that going away for this? Why, why -- do we know why the mining museum was sacrificed for this?

Anne Woosley: Well, I don't know if sacrificed is a word that I really want to use. The mining museum will change. And it will change into the Arizona Experience. And it would be irresponsible of me to say there wasn't going to be fundamental change. But the mining story in Arizona is a powerful one, and we hope to showcase that story in a way that is exciting and fresh and new. If you think about the history of Arizona, what brought people to Arizona to begin with? Well, at a time when it wasn't called Arizona what brought people was the promise of wealth. The promise of mineral resources, gold and silver and you know, we all know that story. Later on, it brought pioneers to Arizona, again, for -- for its mineral wealth, prospectors, and so we have wonderful old maps and stories and photographs and we have all of that history. But mining today is one that if you want to talk about emerging technologies, the mining story today, what mining has to do in order to be sustainable, in order not to destroy the environment that we have, to be more responsible, that story is one that will be in this museum.

Ted Simons: Ok, let's get a timeline now, we got a minute or so left here. A timeline, the mining museum will close at the end of May, end of the school year, somewhere around there?

Anne Woosley: Generally in keeping with the end of the school year.

Ted Simons: OK. When does the construction start on the centennial museum?

Anne Woosley: Construction on the centennial museum is scheduled at the moment, October the 1st.
Ted Simons: With completion --

Anne Woosley: November 2012.

Ted Simons: If the birthday is February 2012, how come that was delayed a little bit?

Anne Woosley: We looked at the entire year of 2012 as a centennial year and so there will be celebrations at the beginning of the year and celebrations at the end of the year and we hope that the Arizona experience will be the kind of sparkle to the end of that year.

Ted Simons: [Laughter] I see, the icing, the dessert at the end of the great meal.

Anne Woosley: That's exactly right.

Ted Simons: Thank you so much for joining us. Good luck with the museum. Good to have you here.

Anne Woosley: Thank you very much. You'll have to invite me when we get further along.
Ted Simons: Alright that sounds good.

Note: To date, the is no public evidence that fundraising for the Arizona whatever museum will be successful. Therefore, the November 2012 opening date may be based on  "imagining the future ."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Is the Arizona Historical Society mission critical?

The news about the state financial crisis has not yet penetrated into some corners of state government.  Two mission critical jobs have appeared on azstate jobs.gov

Job 1000058140, RGA HI Museum Curator - 58140, $49,753 to $53,700
Job 1000058142, RGA HI Museum Curator 2 - 58142, $29,008 to $39,284

These jobs are for the “new museum, The Arizona Experience, a project of the state’s 2012 Centennial”.

There are a few problems. First, there is no such museum, and there may never be such a museum. Unless a lot of money has been hidden from public view, the $15 million project is not funded.  There is still only one contributor shown on www.arizona100.org. That is Freeport McMoRan, which provided $1 million. Or $800,000, or $600,000, depending on which story you hear. Whatever, that is far short of $15 million. The fundraising effort, begun over a year ago, has been a flop.

Second, the new museum surely will not be a part of Arizona’s centennial celebration. The AHS predicts an opening in October 2012, long after Arizona’s centennial celebration. Even that date is not even “iffy”. With no funding and no construction plans, a credible schedule is not possible. So, from now to whenever, what will these two tax dollar paid employees be doing? 

Third, the AHS has said (TV interview) that they will defy Arizona law and scatter the mineral collection across the state.  The remaining minerals will be housed in a little 500 square foot gallery in the new museum. What will the full time Curator 2, who is required to have “geological expertise to manage mineral collections”, be doing? 

The Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum operated over 50 years with a single curator (only state paid employee). It received top ratings and national and international recognition, something no AHS museum ever did. It produced popular K -12 science education programs and served tens of thousands of Arizona students every year, something no AHS museum does. After the AHS gained control and the curator quit in disgust, the mineral museum continued to serve students from September through April without any state payroll (while the AHS pocketed the curator’s salary).

Now, after firing the remaining productive and self-supporting workers, the AHS will hire a large new staff with taxpayer dollars and produce (at best) another mediocre museum like the Marley Center Museum (AKA The History Museum in Papago Park).

Taxpayer’s will lose, students will lose, and Arizona will lose.