Friday, September 26, 2014

Arizona Taxpayers Fund Ghost Museum

The following article was released to Arizona newspapers. The Sierra Vista Herald was the first to publish it.

Taxpayers pay for many questionable government expenditures, but in Arizona they are paying for a state museum that actually ceased to exist over three years ago. 

The mineral museum in Phoenix began as a mineral display at the 1884 Territorial Fair.  As of 2009, it was one of Arizona’s top rated museums and received nearly 50,000 visitors a year. Most of them were students and teachers participating in in its very popular K-12 earth science education programs. It was the only resource supporting teachers attempting to comply with the state mandated earth science curriculum, and it provided educational programs and materials free of charge.

In 2010, the museum was transferred to the Arizona Historical Society, a state agency.  Then, in the spring of 2011, before the end of the school year, the AHS closed the museum for reasons unknown.  Children anticipating class field trips were disappointed. The closure was not due to funding cuts.  The AHS, receives millions of dollars of public funds every year. In 2011, and every year since, the complete mineral museum budget for facilities and staff has been included in the public funding provided to the AHS. Those funds are again included in next year’s AHS budget.

Today, the historic building at the corner of 15th Avenue and Washington Street stands empty and quiet.  It has now been over three years since the last school bus arrived, bringing children who eagerly lined up at the door for a unique and exciting learning experience.  The AHS is scattering the mineral collection to various locations across the state, where it is of little use and subject to damage or loss.

How long will the AHS continue to receive funding for an empty building that now provides absolutely no service to Arizona?

How long will the Arizona legislature continue to fund something that ceased to exist over three years ago?

Dick Zimmermann, Tempe, AZ