While under the direction of the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources, the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum averaged 50,000 visitors each year, half of whom were scheduled school tours. This museum had more than 3,100 minerals, crystals, gemstones and lapidary items, rocks, and fossils on display and an additional 20,000 specimens in storage cabinets in the basement. Displays included old historical mining equipment that has been restored to working order and a diorama of a modern open pit copper mining operation.
As an educational science museum, it helped future generations of Arizonans learn about rocks and minerals, how they are used by society, their importance to our nation’s economy, and the role mining has played in Arizona’s history. Educational products included workshops and teacher kits (40 numbered rocks and minerals plus an identification key and various activity booklets and CDs) that were provided free of charge to Arizona’s teachers. These materials were greatly appreciated by thousands of teachers and students, who have used them for laboratory activities in their classrooms.
The Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum was able to accomplish this with funding for rent, maintenance and one salaried position provided by the state. Revenues generated from its gift shop provided funding for its gift shop employees and tour guides. Much of the other work was performed by volunteers from associated mineral, lapidary and prospecting clubs, who provided 10,000 hours of work, annually.
All of this came to an end on April 30, 2011, only nine months after the Arizona Historical Society took administrative control of the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum from the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources. At that time the museum’s staff was fired without notice and the museum was closed. Furniture, fixtures and displays were disposed of and many of its irreplaceable mineral specimens distributed to other museums around the state. The building has remained vacant over the last five years and been allowed to deteriorate.
With the approval of the Agency Consolidation Budget Bill (SB1530) by Governor Ducey, the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum will be transferred from the Arizona Historical Society to the Arizona Geological Survey in August 2016. However, the building cannot be occupied until $700,000 to $900,000 in repairs are made and will require approximately $2.86 million over the next five years to make it like new. However, the state has provided no funding for these renovations and efforts to obtain funding from private sources has been further complicated by a clause in the legislation that returns the museum to the Arizona Historical Society if it is not refurbished and open by July 1, 2018.
Given the elimination of its modest state appropriation, added costs resulting from its consolidation with the University of Arizona, and small staff, the Arizona Geological Survey will be hard pressed to fund the renovations required to reopen the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum. In absence of financial assistance from the state of Arizona, successful reopening of this important educational resource will require support from private and corporate sponsors. Those who may be interested in supporting this effort are encouraged to contact the Arizona Geological Survey to see how they can help make this a reality.
With the approval of the Agency Consolidation Budget bill (SB1530) by Governor Ducey, funding for the Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS) was eliminated and the duties of the Survey were transferred to the University of Arizona, effective July 1, 2016. In spite of being assured by Governor Ducey's staff that this was the best option for the Arizona Geological Survey's survival, the future of one of best state geological surveys in the nation that has served the citizens of Arizona since 1888 is now uncertain. Modest resources that were vital for the Survey to carry out its core mission were eviscerated by budget cuts and related costs resulting from Governor Ducey's efforts to consolidate state government.
The Arizona Geological Survey will vacate its state offices on West Congress by June 30 and move to the Arid Lands Building on the east end of the University of Arizona campus. This office space is considerably smaller than that of the West Congress office. The Arizona Experience retail store will be closed. The Phoenix office of the AZGS has to vacate its current office by June 30 and its staff will be laid off because the Survey has no place for them to go.
The former Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum in Phoenix will also be transferred from the Arizona Historical Society to the Arizona Geological Survey in August 2016. However, the building cannot be occupied until $700,000 to $900,000 in repairs are made and will require approximately $2.86 million over the next five years to make it like new. However, there is no funding available for these renovations and the possibility of obtaining private funding is slim due to a clause in the legislation that returns the museum to the Arizona Historical Society if it is not refurbished and open by July 1, 2018. The museum will be used to store files, library materials and core contained in the AZGS repository. Otherwise, they would all be disposed.
The Arizona Geological Survey will operate as a research center in the University of Arizona College of Science. The State appropriation to the Arizona Geological Survey will end June 30, 2016. The University of Arizona will provide $941,000 for the 2017 Fiscal Year as a part of the transition. After that, the Arizona Geological Survey will be required to fund 100% of its budget from grants and contracts. The University of Arizona has plans to develop a fee for services program to help underwrite its activities.
Without a state appropriation or funding provided by the University of Arizona, it will be very difficult for the Arizona Geological Survey to generate the matching funds it requires to obtain many outside grants. Furthermore, the Arizona Geological Survey will also be required to give up most of its overhead on existing and future grants to the University of Arizona. These funds have been historically used to help support the Survey's core mission.
As a result of these cut backs, the Arizona Geological Survey has notified some members of its staff that their jobs will be eliminated as July 1, 2016 due to the loss of funding. The Survey is committed to keeping other members of its affected Tucson staff at least one more month. Others have decided to take early retirement.
The Arizona Geological Society wishes Lee Allison and surviving members of his staff well as they work to overcome the hardships resulting from Governor Ducey's efforts to consolidate state government. To those who have lost their jobs, we wish you well in your future endeavors.