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.