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.


  1. It's really very simple. Brewer wanted a party house for the Centennial. The Mineral Museum was in the way. She tells the Arizona Historical Society to ramrod this abortion or get their budget cut. So they caved in and will take the hatred of the state when this entire project fails. All they will be left with is an failed Tempe faciliy, an empty Centennial Museum and Tucson facilities that are rarely visited. So Woosley how many people visit your museums.In fact all but two of their facilities are visited. Fat chance getting an answer. Maybe your Board of Directors know, are they even interested?
    They should have taken the cuts and survived and kept their honor. Oh but that would mean actually raising money? Does anybody do that at the Arizona Historical Society? Does Woosley or maybe even the Board of Director? Were the Board members even informed of all of this? They will take the blame in the end. Fire Woosley and cut your losses now before any more money is spent. Look at it this way you dont have any donations yet so why not?

  2. It is funny that one legislator's legacy can be thrown into the garbage by the current administration. Polly Rosenbaum saved the old Shriner's building and between her and Rose Mofford decided the Department of Mines and Mineral Resources, along with the museum they operated, would be housed in the present building. Along comes Jan Brewer, and with no respect for anyone in the opposition party, destroys another's legacy! There is a reason that the building is called the Polly Rosenbaum building.

  3. As reported in the original post, the centennial museum was planned in secret. When the AHS board was finally told about it, they were also told it was a "mandate" from the governor. Then, they did nothing and just watched the wreckage pile up.

  4. Come February 12th or so the catering trucks will pull up to the back of the museum. They will unload their round tables and chairs and have a few days to set up the entire downstairs for the big birthday bash. Early on the 14th they will bring in their Valentine-Birthday flowers to place on the tables. The state legislators, donors, historical society and centennial staff will begin to enter the premises and toast the centennial. The catering company will have their long tables of food ready for a buffet and everyone will have a feast. The money will need to come from the few donations given for the project that "will never be" unless funded by the Arizona taxpayer mandated by our legislative body after the big party. All the party goers will leave the building and the empty shell will stay that way unless the state breaks their promise and mandates the funds so Governor Brewer's legacy will become a reality.