Sunday, May 31, 2015

Recap of mining and mineral museum plans

The Arizona [Phoenix] Republic ran an extensive story on the fate of the former Arizona Mining & Mineral Museum and the proposal to transfer it to AZGS.

The one thing I added to the article by Mary Jo Pritzl was a comment that the situation was complicated by the fact that Senate Bill 1200 would have required us to re-open it at the Mining, Mineral, and Natural Resources Education Museum, a mission much broader and different from its former operations.    While fans of the old museum anticipated being able to restore it quickly, we raised questions about meeting the expanded legislative mandate.


  1. The concern is understandable, but would SB1200 have provided a mandate or simply and authorization? If the State amends a statute to authorize something but does not fund it, is that a mandate? In other words, if SB1200 had become law but only the mineral museum was ever restored, would that have been a problem? Perhaps the answer depends on expectations as well as legal issues.

    Another issue is the claim, cited in that article, that $2.1 million is required just to reoccupy the building. Since there were no know structural problems when the building closed in 2011, that claim is difficult to understand. The estimates that were prepared by the AHS and the ADOA in 2014 should be released to the public so the community can arrive an a common understanding on this issue.

  2. Dick, SB1200 established a museum advisory board, appointed by the Governor, with representatives from each of the theme communities - mining, agriculture, forestry, livestock, etc.

    I know some folks said I could just ignore the advice (direction?) of the Board and focus on only the mining-mineral aspects of the museum. We can speculate that argument would be accepted by an advisory board, because the mineral speciments are readily available. But I would also expect that it would have to be part of a longer term strategy to develop the full range of exhibits.

    1. So far as I am aware, no supporters of SB1200 recommended completely ignoring any provision in the bill. The thinking was that parts of it would be much easier to implement than others. Presumably, the implementation schedule could have been flexible, with the range of exhibits expanding when and if resources became available. The bills sponsor intended to raise funds, so the whole project might have been completed eventually.

      I seems like the basic issue is, did all of the funds have to be in place in advance, or could the project have proceeded on a best efforts basis as funds were raised? One argument in favor of the latter is that it is harder to raise funds when the statutory authorization is not in place.

      Readers should note the vast difference in the culture of the two state agencies involved in SB1200. AZGS, an extraordinarily successful state agency, prefers achievable goals and then works very hard to reach them. The AHS is quite comfortable with failure, and wastes millions on out of state designers for projects that never even begin (ex: History Museum at Rio Nuevo and 5C Centennial Museum).