Friday, August 26, 2011

Arizona Historical Society historically challenged?

Decades ago, Mo Udall wrote about the obsolescence of the 5Cs that he learned in grade school.  Recently, an Arizona Capital Times article explained why the 5Cs are passé.  The Times article included the flowing statements.

As times have changed, the state’s economic drivers have changed. The consensus among state historians is that the state’s historic 5C should possibly be replaced, or at least augmented with a few new Cs.

One state institution- (Marshall Trimble, Arizona’s official state historian) considered an embodiment of all things Arizona --- says the original 5Cs heyday has passed.

In a KAET 8 program on August 22, Trimble was more specific. He said the 5Cs were actually obsolete about fifty years ago.

The AHS however, tried to build a $15 million dollar 5C Arizona Centennial Museum. It was to be the “centerpiece” of Arizona’s centennial celebration. Not surprisingly, there was no public support for such an obsolete idea and the project failed.

Unfortunately, the AHS did gain control of the top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum and planned to use that building. Even though the 5C museum failed, the AHS closed and dismantled the historic mineral museum. An empty building will now be the “centerpiece” of Arizona’s centennial celebration.

Undaunted, the AHS has renamed the centennial museum as the experience museum, and is floundering about trying to come up with a new theme that will attract funding. Now, they are thinking about “Cs of the future’, including computers.

Mo Udall described computers as a new C ----- in 1984.


Arizona – Where we came from, where we’re going
Mo Udall
Congressman’s Report Vol. XXII No.1, April 1984

FOCUS: the 5Cs of Arizona – losing their clout
Kate Jacobs
Arizona Capital Times, August 5th, 2011, page 13

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Arizona Experience Museum a mineral museum?

The following appeared on

SMMP  -  The Society of Mineral Museum Professionals
Organization  Membership  Announcements  Publications  Mineral Museums  Site Map  Contact


The last column indicates the year through which dues are paid. If you believe that your name has been incorrectly omitted from this list, please notify Anthony R. Kampf . If you believe that your dues status is incorrect, please notify Anna M. Domitrovic.
Ms. Madison Barkley
Curator            Arizona Experience Museum
Arizona Historical Society
1502 W. Washington Phoenix, AZ 85007      USA   

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Arizona Historical Society trying to boost revenue

A recent job posting reads as follows (italics added):

The Arizona Historical Society is currently looking for a Museum Education Curator to join their team.  In conjunction with the Director of Education and Outreach Division, the position holder will coordinate the Southern Division office. The education position is responsible for running several revenue generating programs, such as Speakers Series, Teacher professional development workshops, and summer youth programs, in three museums: the Arizona History Museum in Tucson, the AHS Museum at Papago Park in Tempe, and the new Arizona Experience Museum in Phoenix.

The Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum, which the AHS acquired and closed, provided free education programs to schools at no cost to taxpayers.  Those science education programs served tens of thousands of students every school year.

The AHS plans to use the mineral museum building for the $15 million Arizona Experience Museum.

Is the AHS sincerely interested in education, or is it merely trying to generate revenue to help support its excessive overhead?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Arizona Centennial Museum geologist

The following appeared on

Sunday, August 14, 2011
Geology curator joins centennial museum

Madison Barkley is the newly hired Geology Curator for the "Arizona Experience" [right], the planned reincarnation of the former Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum, as part of the 2012 Arizona Centennial.

Madison recently completed her PhD in Geosciences at the University of Arizona, under the direction of Bob Downs, who is also the Director of the UA Mineral Museum at the Flandreau Science Center. Madison told me she plans on keeping a research office at UA.

Bob has been enthusiastic about the possibilities of developing joint exhibits, education programs, and other resources for the two museums. Madison's appointment may be the key to help make that happen.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Education committee for the Arizona Centennial Museum?

The top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum provided free science education programs to tens of thousands of students and teachers each year.  The broad ranging earth science programs included principles of geology, chemistry, physics, and mining engineering as well as mineralogy.  They were presented by self-supporting employees and volunteers. The museum and its programs were supported by a large group of volunteers that included scientists, engineers, and educators. These people prepared displays and educational programs.  This arrangement was a true win – win for Arizona. The free educational services were provided at no cost to taxpayers.

The Arizona Historical Society offended, insulted, and alienated the many people supporting those popular educational programs by blatantly refusing to comply with Arizona statutes defining AHS responsibilities. They refused to allow the mineral museum to continue to operate in a portion of the centennial museum building as prescribed by Arizona law. The AHS scrapped the mineral museum and terminated the education programs without notice while schools and scout groups still had field trips scheduled. The complete mineral museum staff was locked out.

Incredibly, the AHS now claims that the Arizona Centennial Museum (AKA Arizona Experience Museum) will be a “prominent resource” for mineral education in the same league as the American Geological Institute,  Cochise Community College Arizona Mineral & Geology, and the University of Arizona Mineral Museum. This grand claim is made on
Presuming to assist the AHS in achieving this probably impossible goal, the Governor’s staff has established an Arizona Centennial Museum education committee. The AHS has even hired a geologist  for the now empty building.

None of this makes any sense.

The Arizona Centennial Museum does not exist, and the fund drive for building it has been a flop. The latest theme for the museum is speculation about the future. The designer’s plans show an entertainment arcade augmented with “smells and vibrations”, not an educational facility.

The current status of the Marley Center Museum in Papago Park shows that the AHS has been unable to organize and operate a quality history museum.  Their embarrassing failure at Rio Nuevo in Tucson shows they have little to no community support and cannot raise funds for a new project.

All the AHS is likely to create in the old mineral museum building is a mediocre mineral education program that consumes Arizona tax dollars. Nothing in the history of the AHS suggests it is capable of performing the new mission the Governor has assigned to it.

Why are Arizona students being deprived of a lifetime learning experience?  Just to satisfy an AHS craving for a presence on Capitol Mall?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Where are the Arizona Centennial Museum plans?

The Arizona Centennial (Experience) Museum has been in search of a theme for nearly two years.  First, it was 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”. Finally, a new Foundation website introduced an even more peculiar “theme”, but there was finally (after two years) a floor plan. The first floor plan showed displays featuring “land, water, sky, mind, body, inspire, and remember.” The second floor displays featured “celebrate, innovate, and play”.  As the visitors toured these strange displays, they were to be stimulated with “smells and vibrations”.

Now, that strange floor plan is gone. It has vanished from the Arizona Centennial 2012 Foundation website (  There is not a word about it on the Arizona Historical Society website either. The AHS is responsible for managing the new museum. The Foundation is simply placing the sole source $15.75 million dollar contract for the AHS.

Is the AHS already embarrassed by its new project, the “centerpiece” of Arizona’s centennial celebration?

Was the Foundation ridiculed when it presented its goofy floor plan to prospective donors?

Is the “number one signature project” of Arizona’s centennial celebration in search of yet another theme?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Top heavy Arizona Historical Society wastes tax dollars

from Tucson - Jul 25, 2011, 9:08 am

The Arizona Historical Society is a minor state agency with a nonessential mission. Nevertheless, its director is among the state employed fat cats. Less than 2% of the 41,000 state employees are paid over $100,000. Of those that do, many are medical doctors (department of corrections) or judges. The AHS however, pays its director $120,000 per year. Furthermore, prior year records on the Arizona State Treasure’s website show $ 50,000 in performance pay within the AHS.  It does not state the recipient(s), but a guess can be made. No matter how shiny the floors may have been, the janitor did not get that money.

In addition, the AHS employs a $72,000 Chief Administrative Officer.  Why does the director need an administrative officer to manage history museums with just a few dozen employees?  Apparently, the AHS board has not been informed that Arizona is broke. Or, perhaps they don’t care. The AHS is a unique state agency that reports to no one. It selects its own board members, and the director reports to the board, not the governor. The great majority of AHS funds come from the taxpayers, but the state apparently does not or cannot exercise adequate oversight.

According to the pay range for directors of state historical agencies is $32,630–$76,360. If that data is correct, the AHS board is paying the probably redundant administrative officer a salary that is near the top end of the range for the director’s salary. The AHS board apparently has little regard for taxpayers.

Bloated salaries are not the only AHS abuse of public funds. The hardly visited Marley Center Museum at Papago Park in Tempe eats millions of tax dollars each year.  AHS management of this facility has received extensive media ridicule in years past and has been severely criticized by the Auditor General. The interactive displays now lie is a state of disrepair.

As part of the infamous Rio Nuevo project in Tucson, the AHS blew $1.4 million taxpayer dollars on a museum that will never be built. The AHS promised to raise private funds for construction, but failed.

Now, in the midst of the financial crisis, they are at it again. They are already hiring staff for their new Arizona Centennial Museum with taxpayer dollars, but the museum does not even exist. It is so far behind schedule it can never be open for the centennial, so it has been renamed the Arizona Experience museum. The $15 million required to convert an existing building into the centennial museum has not been raised. Will the AHS have taxpayer supported centennial museum staff playing pinochle in an empty building?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Arizona Historical Society misrepresented intentions?

The unfortunate legislation authorizing the Arizona Centennial Museum in early 2010 caused considerable concern about what would happen to Arizona’s irreplaceable mineral collection, a unique part of the states heritage and an irreplaceable set of scientific specimens.  The following set of five quotations from AHS / Centennial Museum spokespersons, read in its entirety, is not reassuring:

Retired judge Jones is Jones is President of the Arizona Centennial Foundation. The foundation is placing the sole sourced contracts for the Arizona Historical Society.  Anne Woosley and Bill Ponder are the director and administrative officer of the Arizona Historical Society.

Looking back on state's 1st 100 years - Existing mining and mineral exhibits will find home in new Centennial Museum, Charles E. Jones, The Arizona Republic, April 10, 2010

 The historic pieces of equipment and world-class mineral and gem collection will remain prominently displayed. These objects are, after all, the heart of any exhibit or program reflecting the importance and history of Arizona's mining industry. Using modern display techniques, there is ample room for the continued prominence of the mineral exhibition. We understand that one of the reasons this collection is "world-class" is its comprehensive and integrated nature. Separating these valuable specimens would diminish both their value and impact.

Anne Woosley, AHS, Senate hearing on HB 2251 (2010), tape time 1:49:20
The Arizona Historical Society is absolutely committed to keeping intact that world class comprehensive mineral collection.

Mining and Mineral museum, KAET 8 Horizon. April 19, 2011, transcript:
In an email to "Horizon," Woosley wrote, "because we don't wish to “warehouse” materials, thereby making them inaccessible to the public, working with others, we are developing plans to place displays at appropriate public locations and museums around the state."

Arizona mining museum abruptly shutters
Some debate future as centennial facility
by Mary Jo Pitzl - May. 3, 2011
The Arizona Republic, page B1

Ponder said those parts of the mineral collection that don't stay would be available for loan to other institutions with similar missions, such as the Dietz Museum of Geology at Arizona State University.

Arizona Experience Museum
Phoenix Magazine
Author: Dolores Tropiano
Issue: July, 2011, Page 42

Bill Ponder, the historical society’s chief administrative officer, says the now defunct museum served a great purpose. “But I think it could be much, much better even if we are displaying less of the collection,” he says.