Sunday, June 21, 2015

Marley Mess

As reported by prior posts, the “Friends of the Arizona Historical Society” claimed that the mineral museum has been relocated to Tempe. Anyone who has exposed themselves to the painful experience of viewing the few minerals in the pathetic display there knows the claim is ludicrous.

As reported by the Jan 1, 2011 blog post (Museum that couldn’t think straight) the Marley has had serious problems since five years before the day it opened. Perhaps that is why the AHS is so desperately trying to re-brand it as the History Museum at Papago Park.  However, a stink weed by any other name is still a stink weed. The pitiful attendance records say it all.

In addition to the articles by Terry Greene Sterling (referenced in the 1/1/11 post) the following bit of history damns the Marley as a monument to incompetence.  The Marley (or whatever it is called) is not a fitting venue for the state mineral collection.


Society builds lies on lies
by Tucson Citizen on Jun 04, 1998, under Perspective

After reading Richard Oldham’s May 11 guest column, ”Column wronged Historical Society staff, volunteers” I reread the original April 28 column by Mark Sawyer. Nowhere does Sawyer mention either the staff or volunteers at the Arizona Historical Society, only its leadership.

Oldham’s title, like the rest of his writing, was the sort of creative misdirection for which the Historical Society has become known. How sad that it is in charge of writing our state’s history.
It is pointless to debunk Oldham’s lies. The Governor’s Office, the Auditor General, many expert consultants, and all of Arizona’s major newspapers – the Star, Citizen and Republic – have repeatedly recognized the Society’s mismanagement and called for reform. Only the Historical Society’s self-appointed leadership pretends the Society is well-run, and it has already been caught in too many lies to be believed.

If anyone wonders whether the Arizona Historical Society is preserving our history honestly, consider this: the Arizona Historical Society’s Phoenix museum is named in honor of Kemper Marley. According to Arizona Attorney General Grant Wood, former Governor Bruce Babbitt, the Phoenix Police Department, the FBI, and over 100 newspaper reporters who conducted the largest press investigation ever, Kemper Marley ordered the car bomb killing of Phoenix reporter Don Bolles. John Adamson, who confessed to planting the bomb, explained that Bolles was part of a three-victim murder contract Marley arranged. Payments were even traced from Marley to Adamson. But when schoolchildren visit the Arizona Historical Society, Marley is portrayed as a heroic philanthropist.

Is this the sort of ”truth” about history the Arizona Historical Society preserves? Frankly, it’s hard to imagine any state historical society doing worse. But the Arizona Historical Society does do worse. Shortly after naming the museum for Don Bolles killer, the Society went to Bolles’ widow and family and asked them to donate the wreckage of Bolles’ exploded car to the museum. They left out the fact that the museum was named for Bolles’ killer. The family at first agreed, but withdrew the donation in public outrage when they learned the truth. Is Oldham proud of this?

When lies built upon lies bring heartbreak to the family of a man killed for telling the truth, how can anyone defend it? Have the people who lead such a historical society no sense of conscience? Have they no shame?


  1. The exhibits in Phoenix were designed by Les Roe. That's why they are lame at best. Don't have a lot of artifacts, the interactive portions don't work, the history is weak. (But it is Phoenix so what history can you show? Tourism and fruit! exciting!)
    The current attendance is horrible. Just over 3,000. That is criminal.

  2. For a museum that size the low numbers of visitors is beyond criminal. How many people of that number are going to the research library there? How many school kids? and how many in rental activities?
    Why keep it open?

  3. The claim (after four years of nothing) that the MMM is in Tempe at the Marley is very recent. It first appeared in a blurb to other museums by the mysterious Friends of AHS. This group appears to be non-existent and seems to be the desperate work of AHS's lobbyist. None of these "friends" testified at hearings. AHS did open one small room called a Natural History Gallery at the Marley--that's all, and it lacks all of the educational displays the MMM was so known for. Oh yes, the outdoor working mining display is still at the old museum as re4quired by AHS statutes!