Monday, December 5, 2011
Mineral Museum Debacle
Guest Post: The following is the text of an email message provided to Phoenix investigative reporters by Bill Hawes of Dewey, Arizona.
Last year, I served as the President of the Mining Foundation of the Southwest, and in this capacity, spent much time in trying to get input into the planned remodel of the museum. All attempts were in vain- it appeared that the Director of the Arizona Historical Society had decided to follow her selection of architect to the letter.
The Mining Foundation felt that the original objectives of the Centennial Museum, which was to feature the "5 C's" could be achieved within the original $5 million budget, and keep the best parts of the mineral museum and its mining displays. These displays were first class in every respect, and were invaluable in teaching the many school children about Arizona's mining industry. However, as stated earlier, it was a wasted effort.
Outside the museum is (or maybe by now should be past tense) a display of Mining equipment, ranging from a large tire and bucket from a shovel from today's open pits, to the historic displays of a headframe, mucking machine, crusher and one of the few operating stamp mills in the country. This is apparently to be removed. The back exterior wall of the museum had a full size scene from an open pit, which cost $28,000 several years ago. I understand this too has to go.
In January of 2011, the Arizona Republic published as one of it's "My Turn" series an article by Charles E. Jones, retired Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, and co chairman of the Arizona Centennial Commission. In it, he said that "existing mining and mineral exhibits will find home in new Centennial Museum". Apparently, he either lied, or has no control what the Arizona Historical Society does.
As one blatant example: A scale model of an ultra modern open pit mine, along with the related facilities one might find at a large copper mine, such as a concentrator, smelter, SX-EW operations and reclamation efforts were portrayed. The cost to the donor was in the neighborhood of $75,000. The Historical Society said it didn't meet their requirements, so this expensive educational gift had to be relocated- it is now at a technical school.
As with most projects that the museum's architect has been involved with, the estimated cost is now several times over the original. No mention is made of operating costs, should the museum be completed.
Perhaps an unfinished museum will be Governor's Brewers legacy.