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.

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