Sunday, June 19, 2011
The plan to scrap a beautiful Arizona museum
Guest post by Ted Rushton
Ted Rushton, now retired, is a former reporter, photographer, columnist and editor for newspapers and magazines in Canada, New Mexico and Arizona.
It's hard to keep a bad idea secret, as everyone from dumb politicians to even dumber television stars know. Word of a bad idea spreads like wildfire and burns everyone involved.
The proposal to create a $15.5 million 'Arizona Experience Museum' near the state capitol is an egregiously bad idea. The proposal has been talked about for the past year, with only $1.75 million pledged as yet. Why? Simply because this bad idea requires closing the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum, one of the finest such institutions in the United States. Few people, businesses or foundations want their reputation linked to destruction of one of America's foremost institutions.
Instead of learning about the geology and mines of Arizona, thousands of schoolchildren who now visit the Mining and Mineral Museum will learn, "This is where one of America's finest museums used to be located. "It was scrapped to make a glitzy showcase to show tourists some famous facts about Arizona. How many of you students are tourists? How many want to see a picture of a famous Arizona cow?"
It's not that showcasing Arizona cows, cotton, citrus, climate and copper is a bad idea. Done properly, tourists will be delighted to see pictures of famous Arizona cows. Likewise, little “bales" of cotton, the size of a small matchbox, are always a popular tourist draw. And what could be finer than a picture of a glass of orange juice -- sorry, no glasses of real juice unless a snack bar is included. How does one make a memorable display of cotton? One idea is to use cotton candy flavored with cactus juice. Climate? Well, perhaps one room can be kept at 22 degrees, marking the coldest it’s ever been in Phoenix. Another will be at 122 degrees, the hottest ever recorded. A big picture will show big airplanes waiting in big lines at Sky Harbor, because flight manuals only went to 120 degrees. Cactus? None planned. Apparently, it's not "Arizona" enough.
Think of "naming rights," similar to Chase Bank and "Chase Field" of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Perhaps donors can be recruited to sponsor one each of the "Five C's" in the Arizona Centennial Museum(ACM). For example, Titan Corp. may sponsor the 'C' as in "C Our Cotton Grow ‘display. MegaCorp Industries might be proud to "sponsor" a picture of Arizona’s most famous cow -- "an animal that produced 4,444 quarter-pounders for Mickey D!" -- in the ACM (Awesome Cow Museum).
Think of an "Arizona Centennial Song" to celebrate the new museum, which is not expected to open until the Centennial year ends. In1943, the musical 'Oklahoma' -- the film version used Arizona locations -- had a memorable song, “Every thing’s Up to Date in Kansas City ...." Maybe this could be adapted to Arizona, "Every thing's behind the times in Arizona, They're just about as slow as they can be ..."
Think of a historic plaque outside the new museum, telling tourists, “This is the site of what used to be one of America's finest museums. It was scrapped to make way for this museum of cows, cotton, citrus, climate and copper."
Note: The plans for the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum (AKA Arizona Experience) have been recently supplemented to make it more interesting. Current plans add stories, smells, and vibrations. There will also be displays that ‘imagine the future”. The awesome cow will have serious competition.