AHS misreads history
Mineral museum supporters appreciate President Marcisz’s letter of April 23 challenging support for SB1200 (mineral museum restoration). This is the first significant statement the AHS has provided concerning the destruction of the mineral museum, and Arizona needs a thorough, public debate of the issues involved.
President Marcisz’s interpretation of the facts does not fit the historical timeline. First, the recession began well before planning for the Centennial Museum began and is not a plausible explanation for the failure of the project. Second, if engineering and architectural reviews of the building have revealed serious structural problems that occurred well after the mineral museum was closed. Since they were unknown at the time, any such possible problems do not explain why the doors were locked and the staff was fired without notice when students were still scheduled to arrive on field trips.
Assuming that the AHS made a sincere effort to preserve the science education programs, have they actually accomplished anything? The Tempe AHS museum at Papago Park is a failed history museum. It consumes millions of tax dollars every year but only attracts few visitors. Is that a fitting environment for a formerly top rated science education program?
The Tempe AHS museum has ten state paid employees and has only a few thousand visitors per year. The mineral museum had one state paid employee and served over 50,000 visitors per year. Over 40,000 of those visitors were children. Exactly how many children have participated in AHS science education programs since the doors of the mineral museum were locked in 2011? The mineral museum provided teachers with free materials, including mineral kits. Why is the AHS, with millions in state funding, attempting to charge teachers for watered down mineral kits?
The scattering of the mineral collection is not a good thing. Researchers no longer have ready access to specimens and the specimens are now separated from supporting scientific and engineering documentation presently in the possession of the Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS).
Finally, is what the Legislative Assembly of the Territory wrote about mineral specimens applicable today? Which state agency is the better suited to preserve scientific specimens and support science education? The AHS with failing history museums that have never had a satisfactory performance review, or the AZGS with a staff of scientists, an exemplary performance record, and staff members that supported the operation of the former top rated mineral museum?