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:
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