Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Guest Post

My Dear Arizona State Legislator, 

I support SB1200. Why?

1.     After retiring. I visited the museum many times before it closed. On every occasion there was a school bus in the parking lot. Both my niece and nephew, now in their forties, still remember their school visit to the museum. For both to remember their visit after so many years is not an accident. It was a great experience for them.  To me that is one part of successfully managing this museum.

2.     The Arizona Historical Society who has inherited the ownership and accountability of this collection has continually mishandled this collection.  For example:

a.                 Why was the collection subjected to rain damage?  In the years prior to their custody, rain damage was never an issue that had to be addressed.  POOR! custodial ship.

b.                 Have they preserved the science education programs for the K-12 student?   NO! they have not.

c.                  Do they have a qualified scientific curator?  UNCERTAIN

d.                 Do researchers have access to this collection?  UNCERTAIN

e.                 Before closing the public could buy rocks and minerals for their collection. What happened to this option?  NO! they have not.
Again I support any bill that removes the AHS from their incompetent management of this collection.

Yours truly,

Robert Lagodny
622 E. Bridgeport Pkwy
Gilbert, Az 85295

Monday, March 30, 2015

Support fo SB1200

The Arizona Freedom Alliance is supporting SB1200, saying the mineral museum offered kids:

such a wonderful time there, seeing things they never even dreamed of.  Machinery that was used in mining but looked super natural.  Huge meteors from space.  Crystals. Geodes.  Gold mining items.Hands on displays to start the creative juices going in every child. Huge machines used in previous generations dotted the yard outside the building.   It's anyone's guess how many young minds were given wing to science, chemistry or geology or who knows what after an afternoon at this museum

Read the full editorial at:

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Rebuttal from former curator

The March 24 post included false claims made by the Friends so the AHS.  When it was discovered that the false claims were distributed to 74 museums across Arizona, the following was mailed to those museums:

Dear Curator/Members,

The Arizona Historical Society has misinformed people in their recent letters about SB1200 and the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum. As the retired (in 2010) former curator of the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum, I feel the need to set the record straight
AHS did not inherit a closed museum. They allowed the curator and volunteer to run the museum from July 2010 through April 2011 profitably, but closed it for no apparent reason on April 30, 2011. They did not inform the schools that were scheduled for arrival the next day and busloads of arriving school children were locked out.
Under the direction of the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources (now integrated into the Arizona Geological Survey), the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum had 50,000 visitors per year, half of whom were scheduled school tours. This total is more annual visitors than to the entire group of AHS museums. Obviously, the museum was efficiently and effectively run under the former administration. The AMMM was rated as one of the top ten museums in Phoenix and this was accomplished with only the rent and one salaried position supplied by the state.
The AHS quickly moved everything out of the museum, discarding much useful equipment. Display cases were sent to other museums, which deserve to keep them. AHS left the museum building empty for 4 years. This deprived 25,000 school children each year of their science tour, which was usually combined with a tour of the State Capitol Museum. 
AHS has not done outstanding things with the collections. The small mineral exhibit at the Marley Building does not educate children about the science of minerals or the importance of the products of mining in people’s lives. There are no educational programs to help teachers address the state curriculum standards for science, in contrast to those programs given in the former museum.
Adequate storage environments were not lacking in the former museum, as the minerals were stored in locked display cases or secure storage rooms.
The AHS is not efficiently and effectively maintaining the Mining and Mineral Museum, as it was not available to the 200,000 visitors that would have visited it during the past 4 years.
The museum has not progressed or flourished under the direction of AHS and this is not likely to change in the future. There is no evidence that AHS has the interest in or knowledge about how to run an educational science museum. 
The museum assets will be better managed under the Arizona Geological Survey, which rescued the Arizona Experience website when the AHS was unable to perform.
Please urge passage of SB1200.


Jan C. Rasmussen, Ph.D.
Retired Former Curator
Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum

Friday, March 27, 2015

Battle heats up

A recent post on the AZGS blog reports how the battle over the mineral museum is heating up:

The AHS has chosen to attack SB1200 with misinformation.

Are they fooling anyone other than themselves?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

SB1200 makes further progress

This morning, the House Appropriation Committee held a public hearing on SB1200. A video of the hearing will be available on www.az.gov soon.

The bill passed by a vote of 10 to 1 with 3 representatives absent.  The representative casting the lone no vote challenged the AZGS ability to manage a museum. She was informed that the AZGS merged with the agency that formerly managed the mineral museum, and therefore had museum management experience at least equal to that of AHS.

An AHS representative presented the same alibi for the third time.  The whole mess is due to the recession which prevented the AHS from funding their grand plan. That story suggests a question.

Has the AHS ever raised the funding for one of their grandiose plans, in either a good economy or a bad economy?

What about the $85 million History Museum at Rio Nuevo?

What about the $25 million Marley Center Museum?



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Misinformation from AHS

Following the prior post about the very poor performance of AHS museums, this blog received a copy of the following letter. How many misrepresentations can you find  in the letter?

For starters, the museum was not closed when the AHS "inherited it". They were given control in August of 2010, and they locked the doors in April of 2011. At the time, the mineral museum was performing far better than any AHS history museum. The reason for the closing is unknown.

Dear Friends of the AZ Historical Society,

This year at the legislature there is a bill (SB 1200 Mining and Mineral Museum; Transfer)  that will move the Mining and Mineral Museum and its collections from the oversight of the Historical Society and into the Arizona Geological Survey.  The Historical Society inherited the closed museum and collections during the Arizona Centennial during the economic downturn.  Despite fiscal constraints, the Historical Society has done outstanding things with the collections.  They have made the collection database available online, moved the valuable collections into adequate storage environments that were lacking previously, and opened up a brand new natural history exhibit.

In the few short years that the Historical Society has overseen the collections and the museum, they have made outstanding progress, but we need your help.  We need you to call the Governor’s office and tell him:
  • The Historical Society is efficiently and effectively maintaining the Mining and Mineral Museum  and it should stay where it is.
  •  Leaving the Museum where it is currently will allow it to progress and flourish.
  • It makes sense and is good government for the Museum to stay with the state agency that runs museums.  

Please Call: 602.542.4331 and tell the Governor to leave the Museum and its collections where they are!

Let’s Make History!
Copyright © 2015 Friends of AZ Historical Society, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Friends of AZ Historical Society

101 North 1st Avenue

Phoenix, AZ 8500

What AHS destroyed

 A new website (www.miningmineralmuseum.com) displays photos of what the mineral museum looked like before the AHS gained control of it in 2010.

The mineral museum was then the only top rated museum under AHS control and it had more visitors that all the other AHS museums combined. Teachers depended on it to support K-12 science education. It was also far more efficient, requiring state funding for only one of the employees.

So, the AHS locked the doors because   ---------------------------- ?

The most recent AHS attendance figures are on page 236 of the FY2016 Budget

Tucson 7,014
Tucson Downtown 927
Tucosn Fort Lowell 3,086
Yuma 2,066
Tempe 3,375
Flagstaff museum 6,277
Flagstaff mansion 22,008 (state park property)

Total 44,753

Mineral Museum attendance was over 50,000

Monday, March 23, 2015

SB1200 back on track?

As of 4:00 PM on Monday, there was a new addendum posted on az.gov for the House Budget Committee agenda for Wednesday, March 25. SB1200 is included on that addendum.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mineral Museum restoration bill derailed

The bill (SB1200) to restore the mineral museum and the K-12 earth science education programs is stalled near the end of the legislative session. An amendment to the bill provided one year of free rent ($360,000) on the state owned building to help defray start-up costs.  Even though that change does not add any funding requirements to the state budget, it caused the bill to be diverted to the House Appropriations Committee where the issue is still unresolved.

If this technicality is not resolved before the Legislative session ends, at least another 40,000 children will be deprived of a lifetime learning experience. Surely this minor issue can be resolved somehow before the session ends. House representatives need to be prompted to give this urgently needed bill a bit of priority.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Guest Post: Think about it

At a recent Senate hearing, The AHS claimed to have exclusive expertise in museum management, and expressed doubt that the AZGS could operate a museum. However, the mineral museum was a top rated museum before the AHS gained control of it and the AHS has never produced a top rated museum. Perhaps the AHS could learn something from the guest post below. Dedication, and an interest in serving the community, not millions of dollars of state funds, makes a successful museum
Think about it.  Who ran the day to day operation of the museum?  The Curator and the part time employees ran the museum.  Ann Baker was the “gift shop manager” although we were not allowed to call her that as the Director of DMMR said we were all just Tour Guides.  In 2008 before the economy tanked, the museum averaged $750 a day thanks to Ann Baker and her expertise in purchasing, her reasonable pricing  and thanks to the many visitors who purchased the merchandise. The part time employees worked in the gift shop and provided the educational programs to the school children.  All part time employees were paid out of the monies earned in the gift shop.

Who designed the exhibits?  Again, the curator and a few of the part time employees.  Did they have any experience in designing exhibits?  Not exactly, they were either geologists or rock hounds that knew lapidary (the art of cutting and polishing rocks) and these rock hounds ran a very successful rock and gem show each year that included lapidary exhibits.  One part time employee and member of the Maricopa Lapidary Society had many exhibit ideas that she first designed for the annual rock and gem shows and state fair.  She then used these ideas to make many of the very popular museum exhibits.  For instance, a Solar System display, rock cycle display, crystal system display, crystal form display, causes of color in minerals display, a volcano display and 3 periodic table displays (one from rocks and minerals, one from products used in our everyday life and one made from travertine tiles). 

Ann along with Laurette designed the Kids Corner and its displays (four of them) and designed the gift shop display cases and some museum exhibits that went to rock and gem shows around the state and the state fair.  Many of the colorful and educational museum exhibits and exhibits for fair and rock and gem shows were designed by the former curators Susan Celestian and Jan Rasmussen.

And, behind the scenes, the totally devoted volunteers who also had exhibit ideas and who made things happen like dismantling, moving and reassembling the historical mining equipment outside (head frame, stamp mill etc.).  How about the cave display? That was a volunteer’s idea.  How about giving access to the public by way of windows to see what happens in a lapidary shop?  That was a part time employee’s idea.

Former Mineral Museum Employee
Editor’s Note: The museum curator quit in disgust in the fall of 2010 after determining that the AHS did not intend to comply with state statutes requiring the preservation of the mineral museum and its K-12 education programs. Shirley, a longtime employee, then managed the museum (accommodating thousands of children) until the AHS locked the staff out in the late spring of 2011. She also prepared educational displays, including many that taught children about how minerals are critically important in their everyday lives. Shirley also developed and presented her extremely popular scout programs, most times to a packed room that included many adults.

Museum features referred to in the text can be viewed on www.miningmineralmuseum.com.