Sunday, December 30, 2012

Can Arizona’s mining heritage be saved?

Prior posts on this blog have detailed how significant pieces of Arizona’s unique mining heritage are being erased. The historic statue of an early Arizona mining engineer is being removed from the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington DC, and the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum has been eliminated.

Perhaps these actions are driven by a currently popular bias against mining. Public opposition is currently blocking a number of major mining projects in Arizona. This is a self-inflicted wound damaging to the economy, but the foolishness will probably persist until a future generation finally recognizes the essential role of minerals in a successful modern economy.

In the meantime, a small group of dedicated volunteers has been and is tirelessly working to preserve some fragment of Arizona’s mining heritage for future generations. Over a period of 20 years, with tens of thousands of volunteer hours, they relocated, preserved, and restored significant mining artifacts. Those included the head frame and stamp mill at the former mineral museum at 1502 W. Washington St. in Phoenix.  Arizona thanked them by having the capitol police lock them out of the building in 2011.

Unbelievably, this small group of volunteers is continuing to preserve something of Arizona’s mining heritage for future generations. They are currently restoring another stamp mill in Cave Creek, AZ. Examples of this groups incredible historical preservation efforts can be seen at:

Will any of their work survive the destructive forces of those trying to rewrite Arizona history?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Museum economics and the Arizona Historical Society

The Phoenix newspaper recently had some articles and letters lamenting the loss of the $30 million Barry Goldwater Museum to Mesa.. The referenced article states that every dollar spent on a museum brings another seven dollars into the community.

Unless perhaps the museum is operated by the Arizona Historical Society. Does the huge and costly Marley Center Museum in Tempe draw any visitors?  The AHS is unwilling to release any attendance figures. The parking lot seems to always be empty, except for the dozen or so cars driven by staff members.

The 5C Arizona Centennial Museum (AKA Arizona Experience Museum) is even worse.  Separate line items in the AHS budget show the taxpayers are forking over nearly a half million dollars a year for this museum, but the building continues to stand locked and empty.

If museums can benefit a local economy, why are Arizona taxpayers supporting ones that do not?


Did city blow its shot at museum?
Eugen Scott
The Arizona Republic, Oct 29, 2012, page B1

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Arizona Historical Society living large in public trough?

On November 3, 2012, the AHS held their annual meeting at their extravagant Marley Center building (taxpayer supported) in Tempe.  There were approximately 50 cars in the lot.  There are usually about a dozen cars in the lot (staff), and the AHS has 32 board members.

A few students and parents attended the meeting to ask for the return of the mineral museum. An AHS staff member told them the mineral museum would be "restored next year."

As revealed in prior AHS board meeting minutes, the board votes themselves free lunches.  During the annual meeting, there was a catering truck in the Marley parking lot. Did the AHS feed themselves with public funds?


Some cars bore AHS specialty license plates.  The numbers do not seem to go much over 100.  Did the AHS ever sell enough plates to allow taxpayers to recover the cost of designing and producing the special plates?


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Clinging to the 5Cs

Prior posts ( ex: 6 / 16 / 2010 ) described the obsolesce and insignificance of the Arizona 5Cs.  This was further demonstrated by a recent guest editorial in the Arizona Republic.

However, the Arizona Historical Society still doesn’t get it. Recently, their website featured an AZ Capital Times article extolling the merits of the 5C model of the Arizona economy. Although acknowledging that the state economy has changed, it still clings to the idea that the 5Cs continue to have meaning. It even claims they will still have significance in the future.

This distorted understanding of Arizona history explains why the AHS botched the “centerpiece” of the Arizona centennial celebration. The concept of the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum was so badly flawed that that even a majority of the 5Cs refused to participate. Still, a major portion of the centennial budget was blown on designs for a museum that was not and will never be built

Arizona deserved better.

Mining remains key to Ariz. job growth
My Turn by Joe Hart - Arizona Republic, Sept. 29, 2012 12:00 AM

5 Cs: A vision of progress and prosperity for more than 100 years
Bruce Dinges By Guest Opinion – AZ
Published: August 6, 2012 at 9:44 am

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

AHS performance audit underway

The Office of the Auditor General (State of Arizona) has now begun the AHS performance audit in preparation for the 2013 sunset review. The performance audit will be completed before the end of 2012 and will be submitted to the legislature (JLBC).   As stated on the Auditors website:

Performance audits are designed to determine whether an agency is achieving the objectives established by the Legislature and managing its resources in an effective, economical, and efficient manner.  These audits focus on programs and issues that are of particular interest to legislators and the public and make recommendations to improve agency operations. Sunset audits are performance audits that also answer specific questions set forth in the statutes to help the Legislature determine whether or not an agency should continue

Audits are conducted at the request of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee or under the provision of various laws, including Arizona’s Sunset Law, which mandates scheduled periodic review of state agencies.

Arizonians wishing to provide information for consideration during the AHS audit can do so as follows:

Go to

For street address and phone number click on “contact us” and then “general information”.

For an email address, click on “about us”, “performance audit”, and then “division contact directory”.  Then scroll down to “Dot Reinhard”. She is responsible for the AHS audit.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Why continue Mineral Museum Madness?

The hostile takeover of the mineral museum occurred over two years ago, and the museum was destroyed over a year ago.  Today, the empty building is serving no useful purpose except for holding up the new solar panels. Why continue this blog?

Because the purpose of the blog, as originally stated in the “about me” section (under the rock hammer) is to recover the mineral collection from the AHS and have it reassigned to another agency with appropriate scientific credentials. That could be a state university or the Arizona Geological Survey. The latter option would reunite the collection with the supporting documentation.

Each year, there is an opportunity for legislation to achieve that objective. In 2013, there is an additional, alternate possibility. The AHS has a ten year sunset review, and can perhaps be eliminated. Its original purpose is now redundant to the Arizona State Library. All historic documents now housed by the AHS could be consolidated with others already in the library. Historically significant artifacts could be consolidated with the collection in the Arizona Capitol Museum. Arizona taxpayers would save well over 5 million dollars per year.

How long will the objective of this blog be pursued?

Family history suggests the author may live another twenty years or more.

Postings will probably be much less frequent because there currently appears to be little if any activity involving the Arizona Experience Museum fiasco. However, this blog will continue reporting (as it becomes available) news involving:

  • The Arizona mineral collection
  • The Arizona Experience Museum boondoggle
  • The Arizona History Museum (Rio Salado) boondoggle
  • The Marley Center Museum boondoggle
  • The AHS sunset review

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Arizona centennial mess

The July 16th post described how Arizona centennial planners distributed misinformation shortly before the centennial year. Now, a year later, they will not answer questions about the “centerpiece” of the centennial celebration.  Their silence is effectively perpetuating the Arizona Experience Museum hoax.

As recently as July 23 of this year, the following appeared on the internet:

….. After seeing all of the other Phoenix/Arizona history museums close unexpectedly. Phoenix history is getting harder and harder to find. You really have to work for it now; it is being developed, incorporated, replaced and erased. The massive Arizona Mining Museum near the state capitol has been closed since May of 2011, with plans to reopen in November 2012 as the “Arizona Experience Museum.” The proposed new attraction is slated to celebrate the “5 C’s of Arizona.” For now, the building remains closed.

Indeed, the elephant on Centennial Way (on West Washington Street in Phoenix just east of the State Capitol) that no one will talk about is the big grey hulk of the former mineral museum building.  Because of the centennial mess, fifty thousand school children were deprived of a lifetime learning experience during the past school year. Apparently, another fifty thousand will be so deprived during the coming school year.

Does anyone care?

5 things to do in Phoenix before they disappear
Signature Vacation Rentals

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What attracts museum visitors?

The private, volunteer operated Pioneer Living History Museum (AKA Pioneer Village) opened in 1969. Unlike big budget, state operated history museums like the Marley Center Museum in Tempe, it was a popular history museum, attracting about 50,000 visitors per year.

Pioneer Village was taken over by the City of Phoenix in 2010.  At the time, Phoenix pledged to provide free passes for 1,200 low income children per year. That has not happened. The city says it is because they do not have funds to provide transportation.

Why is it necessary to provide free transportation to attract visitors to use free passes?

The Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum (also volunteer operated) provided free services to about 50,000 students per year. It did not have funds to provide transportation either. About half the students were brought to the museum by parents or other family members. The other half were brought by teachers on formal school field trips. The transportation was provided by school buses operated by various school districts.

If a museum fills a need, people will come.  The mineral museum provided free educational services that supported state mandated K-12 earth science education standards.  Parents and teachers recognized that, and were more than willing to provide transportation.

Pioneer Living History Museum passes for low-income kids go unused
City can't afford transportation to Pioneer Village
by Betty Reid - Jul. 26, 2012 03:40 PM
The Republic |

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Arizona Historical Society provides best value?

The AHS website currently boasts that a recent poll identified their History Museum at Papago Park (actually the Marley Center Museum) as a best value. Was that a poll of museum patrons or museum reviewers?


It was the 2012 Wedding Chronicle’s Readers Poll. It recognized the Marley as the “best place for value” to schedule a wedding reception.

If the Marley were a first rate history museum, and if wedding receptions defrayed part of the cost of operating such a state museum, that would be fine. However, the design and maintenance of the Marley both suggest that the tail is wagging the dog at the Marley.  It appears to be a taxpayer subsidized wedding reception center that has old, obsolete and broken interactive museum displays rusting and rotting mostly out of sight on the second floor. Museum attendance appears to be pitifully low, and the AHS will not even release the numbers

Why should Arizona taxpayers provide millions of dollars a year to subsidize a wedding reception facility that competes unfairly with private facilities?

Why are Arizona taxpayers providing the AHS with a half million dollars a year for an Arizona Experience Museum when the AHS never even opened such a museum?