Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Details of extraordinary failure

The prior post shows the dramatic decline of attendance at AHS history museums.  The following table shows the attendance at each AHS facility for FY 2014, the last year for which data is publicly available.

Arizona History Museum, Tucson        7,014
Downtown History Museum, Tucson      927
Fort Lowell, Tucson                              3,086
Sanguinetti House, Yuma                      2,066
Museum at Papago Park, Tempe            3,375
(Marley Center Museum)

Pioneer Museum, Flagstaff                     6,277
Subtotal for all history museums        22,745
Riordan mansion, Flagstaff                    22,008
(State Park property)

Total for all AHS managed facilities       44,753

Each time AHS related issues come up in Legislative hearings, the AHS touts its museum management expertise.  If they had even mediocre management abilities, why would they keep a museum open that gets less than 3 visitors per day (Downtown Tucson)?  Why are they allowed to blatantly mismanage state property and funds?

Someone posted a comment on the prior post stating that the most out of the way highway rest stops have better attendance than some AHS museums. The data above suggests they are right. 

Referring back to the bar chart in the prior post, it is obvious that AHS museum attendance is declining at a greater rate since 2012. Could that be because the AHS offended the public by destroying the once top rated mineral museum (annual attendance over 50,000) and its K-12 education programs in less than a year after they gained control of it?

Museum management expertise?
 “Excelling”* at museum management.

Source: FY 2016 Baseline budget, page 236
*Claim made by AHS lobbyists during Senate hearing on SB1200


  1. For a major museum facility and it's outlying museums those numbers are horrible.
    Half of their numbers come from the Riordion House in Flagstaff. That was opened and run by Arizona state Parks for many years. Just down the street is the Pioneer Museum. An attendance of 6,277 is OK for the AHS but how can you miss in Flagstaff where tourism is king! And the Pioneer Museum is right down the street from the Museum of Northern Arizona and on the highway to the Grand Canyon!
    The Sanguinitti Museum in Yuma did not always have that low of attendance. And now it is closed for the whole summer. I know Yuma gets hot but I guess it is not even worth paying for the electricity
    Papago Park at 3,375 is criminal. For a building that size it is criminal. I wonder how many even come into the so-called research library. That should have accounted for "some" visitors. Guess not many. The exhibits are so lame that nobody even cares to come in! It is a massive facility.And 3,000 people a year is unbelievable.
    The Fort Lowell Museum when it was a free admission did 15,000 a year in attendance. Later the museum dropped to about 11,000 a year. After Bill Ponder told the Arizona Legislators that AHS would make hundreds of thousands of dollars on admissions the attendance dropped to about 1,200 a year. It has gone up recently because of the addition of some bans concerts. But much less compared to when it was in full operation.
    The Downtown Museum had over 6,000 visitors a year and it was not only half completed. After charging admissions charges it has gone down to 927 people a year! Doing the math it would be assumed that it would be at least 12,000 a year at this point. The donations box would be filled by the visitors. I wonder what 927 visitors will bring you in admissions dollars?
    And finally the AHS in Tucson. 7,014. They have some of the most exciting artifacts of Arizona history. So where are they. Maybe put some out in a display! This is beyond criminal. No public relations, no outreach, no director who reaches out to the community, no board of directors who can raise money, a board who has no clue what is going on, staff turnover that is way too high.
    The attendance just shows that nobody cares what the AHS is doing. Maybe the Board will care some day and that the Arizona Legislators will care and that the Governor can care a little more. SB 1200 was a start. More needs to be done.
    22,745 for six museum facilities. You have to be kidding. And some people need to be fired. How much lower can it get?

  2. Compare these horrible numbers to any other museum attendance of any museum in Arizona. Somebody is not doing their job. Whether it be spending money and energy on a Rio Nuevo Boondoggle or the destruction of the Mineral Museum and attempting to then build an Arizona Experience Museum or a 5 "C"s Museum etc.
    Numbers like this for all of the facilities for one year equal about one week's worth of visitation for the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum or the Pima Air Museum.

  3. It's sad that our state keeps pouring millions of dollars each year into an agency that simply can't perform the task outlined in the AHS statutes. Destroying the historic Mining and Mineral Museum with its excellent attendance and hauling the contents to the Papago (Marley) with its poor attendance is typical of AHS's lack of ability to plan for success rather than failure. You don't destroy a museum with an excellent reputation and move the contents to and AHS museum with a bad reputation and poor attendance, and expect a big success! After four years AHS has a small rock and mineral gallery (natural history) open and is working on getting some displays about history and science. Attendance is going down and admission fees are going up. Guess how successful this is likely to be! And AHS wants to keep the MMM from reopening to serve the thousands of students they victimized so they can get a reception center for lobbyists instead.

    1. When you say "AHS" you might as well say Ann Woosley and her spineless Assistant Director Bill Ponder.
      When will the Board wake up?

  4. I just see the sense of closing down a major educational museum facility that tens of thousands of kids and adults would see each year to open up a small "gallery" in a museum that only 3,000 people see each year. This is insane.
    The board of directors must be ashamed by this. Or maybe not. If they are ever at a social function and somebody asks them about being on the AHS Board---do they walk away? Or just ashamed?
    I bet the "gallery" at the Papago Park museum is a really gret exhibit. Nor just a few exhibit cases with short labels?....No don't answer that question.

  5. When you have attendance this low why even have gift shops in the museums? Not enough people to buy anything. Well at least I bet the janitors are happy....not much to clean up after.

  6. A museum gift shop is supposed to educate it's visitors and make money. With almost no visitors nobody is getting educated and there is no money being made. What is wrong with this picture?