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A Little History of the Phoenix Museum of History

[Source: Boy Meets Blog]

The phone number to the building is disconnected and the website no longer exists. The glass doors are locked to the public and the exhibits removed because the Phoenix Museum of History no longer exists. Most of the artifacts once on display that link Phoenix to its early Wild West history and farther back to its ancient history are inaccessible to the public now that the city’s oldest museum of history is closed. Only a small portion of the exhibits will be back on display in 2011.

The Maricopa Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution recognized the need for a history museum as early as 1919, only 7 years after Arizona became a state. They established the Arizona Museum of History in 1923 as a private, non-profit organization and by 1927 the museum moved into its first building on 10th Ave and Van Buren where it remained until 1996. In 1988 the people of Phoenix approved the issuance of more that $1 billion in bonds allocating money for among other things, the construction of a new building for the museum of history. The Arizona Museum of History became the Phoenix Museum of History in 1995 and a year later it moved into the new bond-funded building in Heritage Square.

In 2009 during the throes of the Great Recession the City of Phoenix voted to eliminate the $100,000 annual donation to the museum, the final financial blow that forced the museum to close for the first time since 1923. The bond-financed building was gobbled up by the nearby Arizona Science Center who now leases the museum building from the city and uses it for educational purposes and office space. The museums assets were transferred to the science center as well.

But what are the long term plans? Will the museum be open again before the Arizona centennial? What happened to the exhibits?

Kristin Priscella, Senior Director of Communications at the Arizona Science Center, said that as part of the agreement with the City of Phoenix, the science center agreed to dedicate 5,400 square feet of space to showcase Phoenix and Arizona history downtown, but you’ll have to buy a ticket to the science center to see it. Priscella said the science center has until the end of this calendar year to assess the artifacts and determine a plan for the collections. However, January 1st 2011, something will be on display. Where the rest of the artifacts end up at this point is anybody’s guess.

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Arizona Science Center gains Phoenix History Museum’s assets

[Source: Kathleen Gormley, Arizona Republic] — The Arizona Science Center has acquired the assets of the Phoenix Museum of History under a new operating agreement that also gives it the right to occupy the museum’s building.  The Phoenix Museum of History, 105 N. Fifth St., closed its doors June 30 because of financial problems.

The science center, 600 E. Washington St., has agreed to provide at least 5,400 square feet of space dedicated to Phoenix history in one of the two buildings, city officials said.  The history museum totals 20,000 square feet.

The Phoenix City Council approved the agreement Wednesday in which the science center will operate both buildings.  The city owns the buildings and is responsible for maintenance of them.  The museums pay rent to the city to occupy the buildings.  “This is not a merger,” said Ruth Osuna, deputy city manager.  “It is a transfer of assets of the Museum of History to the science center.”

The museum, which has been looking for a financial partner, contacted the Arizona Science Center about a partnership “about 17 or 18 months ago,” said Chevy Humphrey, president and CEO of the science center.  Kristin Priscella, science center senior director of communications, said the science center is “working on a plan to catalogue the artifacts that were part of the history museum’s asset acquisition.”  She said a reopening date for the history section is to be determined.  [Note: Read the full article at Arizona Science Center gains Phoenix history museum’s assets.]

Two Canadian travel writers visit Phoenix and what do they see?

phxmushist_smjpg[Source: Barbara Braidwood and Rick Cropp, Canwest News Service] — Phoenix, Ariz.: yes, you can golf, shop, or watch professional sports until you can’t stuff in another hot dog, or hit the culture trail of art galleries and theatres until your eyeballs hang on your sunburned cheeks.  But a different view of Phoenix comes from the air, the fringes of the city or even from underground.  When you need a break from all the good food, sports, and golf, take a balloon ride, dig up a little history, drive out, way out, into the desert, or climb a mountain.

Phoenix really did rise above the remains of another civilization, and traces of the 3,000-year-old Hohokam people — who disappeared around AD 1500 — remain. Beneath the downtown Phoenix Convention Center are the remains of about 40 Hohokam pit houses and hundreds of items recovered during the construction are on display.  Afterwards, go to the nearby Phoenix Museum of History for a view of the city’s history up to the present day.

Unlike Canada, where trees and brush so often obscure your view, with any elevation at all in Phoenix you can see for miles.  The city has mountains on two sides and a hump in the middle called Camelback Mountain.  Camelback’s sheer red sandstone cliffs can be circumvented or challenged with trails to the top (350 metres above the desert), where there is a spectacular outlook.  The easy trails at the bottom are a stroll for anyone with a good pair of walking shoes, but the top is a bit of a struggle.  Mountains at the edges of the city are higher and offer much more diversity, from really easy to death-defying trails. The North Mountain Visitor Center has exhibits illustrating the Sonoran Desert’s richness as well as maps of hiking trails snaking around the more-than-600-metre mount.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Visit up to 15 great Phoenix attractions with ShowUp’s Now Pass

The ShowUp Now Pass is an all-inclusive pass to the museums and attractions of the Greater Phoenix region.  For one low price — even lower with Summer Pricing — you’re invited to experience as many as 15 destinations unique to the Desert Southwest.  There are two pass options available: (1) “Golden Triangle Pass” provides admission to visit the Phoenix Art Museum, Heard Museum, and Desert Botanical Garden, or (2) “Total-Access Pass” provides admission to visit all 15 area attractions:

For more information and to purchase your Now Pass, click here.

Book offers pictorial history of Mexicans in Phoenix

[Source: Beth Litwin, Arizona Republic] — Local author Frank Barrios (pictured at left) and the Phoenix Museum of History invite you to a dinner and book-signing event for his new pictorial history entitled “Mexicans in Phoenix.”  Barrios, a Phoenix native with family roots dating back to the 1800s, compiled 213 photos with captions highlighting the social, cultural and economic history of Mexicans in Phoenix.  “I often refer to the story of Mexican people in Phoenix as the untold story,” said Barrios, adding that the majority of the photos have never been displayed or published before.  The 127-page book features family history and Mexicans photos from the late 1800s through the 1970s.  Barrios gathered many of the photos and stories from interviews with members of pioneer Mexican families in Phoenix while working on the Hispanic Property Survey project last year.

He joined Phoenix Historic Preservation officers and other researchers working on the survey that identified Mexican American properties important to Phoenix’s history.  Barrios agreed to put together the book after the project’s completion.  Among many community involvements, Barrios serves as vice president of the Board of Directors at the Phoenix Museum of History, president of First Families of Arizona, and serves on the state board of the Arizona Historical Society.  For more information, visit the Phoenix Museum of History website.