Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Has the Arizona Historical Society abandoned its mission?

Arizona Revised Statute 41-823 defines the purpose of the AHS as follows:

A.  The society shall procure, by gift, exchange or purchase:
1.  Books, maps, papers and materials pertaining to the history of Arizona and the west.
2.  Narratives of historical events of the exploration and early settlement of Arizona, and of overland travel in the state and the west.
3.  Data relating to Indian tribes, and portraying the antiquities, the past and present conditions and progress of the state.
4.  Historical and scientific reports of the western states, and materials and facilities for investigation of historical, scientific, social, educational and literary subjects.
B.  The collections and materials shall be housed suitably for protection, preservation and availability, properly catalogued and kept accessible to the public during reasonable hours on business days and the society may charge a fee for these services. --- (italics added)

The photo shows the professionally lettered closed sign on the library door at the Marley Center Museum (AKA History Museum at Papago Park).  The Marley is not being operated in accordance with the italicized portion of the statute.  Rather, it solicits special events such as weddings to supplement its budget. Indeed, the Marley appears to have been specifically designed for that purpose. The architectural plan actually showcases the cocktail bar and party areas rather than the museum.

If the AHS was self-supporting, that might be appropriate. However, it is not. It is renting out publicly owned buildings to merely supplement its budget and that practice results in a large net loss for taxpayers. In FY 2011, the AHS got a $6,285,000 appropriation from the State of Arizona (84% of its total budget).

Why was such a misguided and inefficient state agency now permitted to begin yet another museum project on the Capitol Mall in the midst of a financial crisis? Why was the new museum authorized when the plans clearly show it is in no way related to the mission of the AHS as defined by Arizona statutes?

Note: The photo was taken on Feb 6, 2011. On Apr 18th the same apparently permanent sign was still on the locked door.


  1. I have been in that library a couple of years ago doing research. It is a modern and wonderful facility. So what is the problem here. Lack of staff? No money? Will one of the AHS administrators please come forward and tell the public or maybe the Az Legislators why it is not open.

  2. So what does the AHS Board of Directors think of all of this?

  3. That library has been closed for a long time. What a waste of resources. All of that tax money and nobody can use it. A complete disregard of what supporters have done in the past. A Woosley trait to the core.
    Message to AHS Board of Woosley. Ohh but wait she was one of you at one point. Do what's right and save what you can.