Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fixing the Arizona Experience Museum Mess

For nearly two years, this blog has followed the awful mess caused by the seriously flawed 5 C Arizona Centennial Museum (AKA Arizona Experience Museum) project. That project, the “centerpiece” of the centennial celebration, failed miserably. It also destroyed an existing top rated and very historic museum in the process. 

Now, a newspaper editorial has presented a very constructive suggestion for fixing that mess. An editorial on page B6 of the April 21, 2012 Arizona Republic offers a solution that would mark Arizona’s centennial with two successes rather than a notorious failure. The link to the editorial, entitled “Solution to Marking Centennial” is:

The brilliant and inspired editorial makes the following points:

1.      The initial project became too expensive to seriously consider completion

2.      The new Arizona Experience website is achieving the goals of the Arizona Experience museum at a fraction of the cost

3.      The website makes the wide ranging information about Arizona available to the entire world, not just a handful of visitors to a brick and mortar museum

4.      There is a serious need for the K-12 educational programs previously offered by the mineral museum

5.      Arizona’s centennial year can still end with two remarkable successes: and a restored and improved mineral museum.

Will Arizona’s elected leaders respond to this thoughtful and practical suggestion?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


 Anonymous guest post:           

On a recent visit to New Mexico I discovered that 2012 was also their Centennial Year.  The contrast between the activities, enthusiasm and participation between New Mexico and Arizona was striking.

The first big difference was noticeable just driving into New Mexico.  It didn’t take long to notice the number of cars and other vehicles with the New Mexico centennial license plate proudly displayed.  They also had t-shirts with the license plate on them.  This was obviously planned and promoted well in advance.  In Arizona, I have to admit that we finally have one, but I have never seen one on a vehicle.  Worse than that, the Centennial 12 Foundation borrowed the $32,000 for the set-up for the special plate from the Dept. of Transportation.  Have we sold enough to pay that off???

Another contrast was the advertising cities, large and small, had available in brochures about the centennial activities for their community. The centennial items for sale were found at events in communities, and people talked about their history, and had information about the celebrations all over the state.

Finally, the starkest contrast was their “signature” project vs. ours.  For New Mexico, the Governor’s initiative was the Centennial Children’s Legacy Fund.  This incredible project  raised money to serve their children through projects that will enhance the education and welfare of children.  This gift to the children for the next 100 years will be administered by a private foundation in the form of grants to organizations helping children. Money was raised through a series of Centennial Balls in cities, and through citizen donations, and is ongoing.  WOW!

In Arizona, we dishonored students and their desire for earth science education, by abruptly closing the historic and self-supporting Mining and Mineral Museum. This was done to promote our governor’s (and AHS’S) fantasy of a 5C’s Centennial Museum, turned into the non-existent Arizona Experience Museum. This “signature” project barged in and replaced or diminished more reasonable centennial projects, and was based on the very false assumption that businesses and people would just love to give their money to the state to promote the Governor’s legacy!  Our centennial is mired in controversy, disappointment, and anger.  We managed to take away from our children, and now have an empty building.  I’m planning to send a check to the Children’s Legacy Fund in New Mexico—giving is better than taking away.  They got it right!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Further subsidy for the Arizona Historical Society

In spite of a resume of failed projects, the Arizona Legislature continues to divert tax dollars to the Arizona Historical Society.  Some are clearly visible, such as those in the multimillion dollar annual budget appropriations. Some are hidden, such as proceeds from the sale of centennial license plates. An accountant would have difficulty determining the total tax burden caused by the AHS.

The latest indirect subsidy is partial relief from rent for state owned buildings.  Twelve members of the Joint Committee on Capitol Review voted to grant the AHS a partial rent exemption of $44,400.

Following budget cuts in 2010, the Legislature refused to do the same for the then top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum and its K -12 science education programs. That precipitated the eventual demise of the mineral museum.

State of Arizona
Minutes of the Joint Committee on Capital Review
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
8:00 AM, House Hearing Room 4

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Empty Green Building

School buses no longer bring children to the former Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum and tourists keep finding the doors locked. But the building is now green. Will the value of the electricity generated by the solar panels offset the money the state is spending on a curator for an empty building? Reported status of the stimulus funded project is as follows.

Arizona Department of Commerce - Energy Office
Solar Photovoltaic @ the Arizona Experience
1502 W. Washington, Phoenix, AZ

Date Funded: 07/01/10 Senior Project Manager: Janet Collegio
General Manager: Roger Berna
Budget: $356,636.00
Budget Source: ARRA Index No. 21605
Architect/Engineer: Sky Engineering, Inc.
Contractor: Sky Engineering, Inc.

Notice to Proceed: 02/01/11
Completion: 01/30/12 (100 Percent Complete)

Project Description
Design and install a Photovoltaic System on the Arizona Experience (previously known as AZ Mining & Minerals Bldg)

Project Status
Installation of the solar photovoltaic system has been completed.
Waiting for an opening with APS to commission the system for conformity to plans and specifications.
Once system has been approved, APS will then schedule the change-out of the existing meter to a bi-directional meter.

Reference: Arizona Department of Administration, Project Status Report, Roger Burna, February 29, 2012