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.