In 2011, Arizona lost a major state mineral museum. The former top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum in Phoenix had over 50,000 visitors a year, and provided highly successful K-12 education programs. The Arizona Historical Society gained control of the museum in 2010 and locked the doors in the spring of 2011.
The closure was not due to funding cuts as so many people assume. The full state mineral museum budget was transferred to the AHS in 2010, and the AHS still receives full funding for the mineral museum today. The AHS planned to convert the building for an alternate use. Initially, they planned a 5C Arizona Centennial Museum including restaurant and lounge. However, funds for their centennial museum project were never raised. Nevertheless, the AHS still retains control of the building.
Recently, AHS lobbyists were successful in securing the Governor’s veto on Senate Bill 1200. That bill, passed almost unanimously by the State Legislature, would have enabled restoration of the mineral museum by transferring mineral museum assets to the Arizona Geological Survey. The AHS has not dropped plans for an alternate museum, and is focusing on a restaurant and lounge for lobbyists*.
*the AHS does not acknowledge their goal of accommodating lobbyists, but a restaurant and bar have been part of their plans since 2010. Various code words that have been use for an alternate use for the building are “event center”, “reception area”, and “protocol meeting room”.