The Dec 9, 2015 post announced the CAMMAZ museum story contest. Three independent CAMMAZ judges, not knowing the names of the authors, scored each of the entries. The story with the highest total score follows.
My Most Memorable Museum Experience
Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum
From 1919 to 1991, Arizona’s mineral collection was housed in a relatively dark corner in one of the buildings at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. In 1991, Arizona’s remarkable collection of minerals was moved to the former El Zaribah building located at 15th Avenue and West Washington Street. Representative Polly Rosenbaum, longest serving member of the Arizona Legislature (1949-1995) and Arizona icon, championed the effort. Representative Rosenbaum worked across party lines to gain support to move the mineral collection to a facility where it could be properly displayed and appreciated.
I was on staff at the Arizona Legislature at the time the collection was moved and had the privilege of joining a small tour led by Representative Rosenbaum of the new Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum before the museum officially opened. Her enthusiasm for and understanding of Arizona’s mineral history was apparent as she talked about our State’s natural resources and life in a mining town. Her observations and insights left an impression on me that has lasted to this day. Listening to Polly Rosenbaum describe life in a mining town made it very clear why copper is one of Arizona’s five “C’s.” (Cotton, citrus, climate and cattle comprise the remaining four C’s.)
When the museum closed a few years ago, I was reminded of the commitment that Arizona once had to its mineral history and identity, evidenced by its efforts to preserve that history at the museum. Closing the doors not only removed an opportunity to better understand our past, but eliminated educational opportunities that could spark passions affecting our future. How many children have been inspired to become a scientist because of a museum experience?
My early experience at the museum helped me to appreciate that sometimes a seemingly small event can have long-term consequences, affecting not only you personally, but potentially many others. A strong sense of stewardship on the part of our policy makers is necessary to assure that we not only protect and respect our past, but our future as well.