Sunday, April 28, 2013

Museum visitors vote with their feet

The figure below shows what services taxpayers receive from the AHS in exchange for the multimillion dollar annual budget. The annual statewide attendance for all AHS museums is shown from FY 2003 through 2012.

 The text below the graph states that the dramatic increase in FY2011 was due to operation of the Centennial Museum.  That is not correct. There was no Centennial Museum. The theme selected for the Centennial Museum was so absurd that only one Arizona company made a donation. The doors never opened.

The spike in attendance was actually caused by visitors to the mineral museum that operated in the building at the time it was reassigned to the AHS for the Centennial Museum. The mineral museum, by itself, attracted more visitors than all the AHS museums in Tucson, Tempe, Yuma, and Flagstaff.

The 80,000 visitors in FY 2011 were largely due to mineral museum attendance prior to the closing in April of 2011 (fiscal years do not match calendar years).  Subsequent to the closing, potential visitors did not choose to visit any of the remaining AHS museums. At the end of FY 2013, AHS attendance will again drop down to the approximately 30,000 level achieved in FY 2010. Or, perhaps less due to the declining trend exhibited from 2005 to 2010.

Why does the Arizona legislature continue to throw money at museums that people are clearly not interested in visiting?

Note: Admission to AHS museum is not free.  The AHS double dips by collecting both admission and an annual budget.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Madness continues

Nearly two years ago, in April of 2011, the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum was abruptly closed. The entire staff was escorted offsite and fired, and police prevented access to the building as a contractor changed all of the locks. Children anticipating scheduled field trips were out of luck, as are visitors that still arrive at the building on a daily basis. The closing did NOT save money. As of this date, the AHS still receives funding for the mineral museum. According to the new state budget, they will receive the money next year as well.

The locked and now empty building still has a small sign in the window that says “temporarily closed for construction”.  What construction? When? Just how long is temporary?  Apparently what really happened was destruction.

Where is the state mineral collection?  Why can’t people see it, even though the taxpayers continue to fund both a building and a staff?

The AHS has now begun placing a “mineral gallery” on their website. This may be consistent with the thinking behind their centennial museum boondoggle, which suggested that a digital image of an artifact was as good as or perhaps even better than the real thing.  But, it is stupid.

Arizonians are still paying for a mineral museum, but they no longer have one. A “gallery” on a website is not a museum.