I wish to speak to Agenda Item 8: Treasurer’s Report, Action Item c:
Discussion and approval of Executive Committee recommendation to dissolve the relationships with the City of Tucson, Wells Fargo, and AZ State Parks and Trails and to direct staff to act in a timely manner to extract AHS from operational aspects in existing MOU’s for Riordan Mansion State Park, the Downtown History Museum, and Historic Fort Lowell.
The Museum Association of Arizona understands and sympathizes with the financial challenges faced by the Arizona Historical Society, which are shared by museums across Arizona, and the entire country.
However, we wish to express our concern over the proposed unilateral termination of the long-standing collaborative partnerships with the City of Tucson, Wells Fargo Bank, and the Arizona State Parks regarding the operation of Historic Fort Lowell, the Downtown History Museum, and Riordan Mansion, respectively.
As I am sure you know, each of these museums provides a unique perspective on Arizona history, so I will add just the briefest of comments.
Historic Fort Lowell contributes to the military history of the Southwest, including the role of indigenous people both as allies and adversaries, and is integral to the Fort Lowell Historic District, which includes several buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Downtown History Museum provides a full picture of the growth of Tucson, including its Spanish origins and, in the words of one visitor, is an “honest history museum that actually covers early Tucson history, not only the "American" history that is done by many "historical" societies.”
The staff and volunteers of Riordan Mansion have worked closely with Arizona Historical Society’s Pioneer Museum to develop both the award-winning Todos Unidos exhibit, as well as the current ground-breaking exhibit, Resilience: Women in Flagstaff’s Past and Present, which has served to unite the many disparate cultural organizations in Flagstaff.
Rather than voting today to dissolve the relationships with these three partners, the Museum Association of Arizona urges the Arizona Historical Society’s Board to direct the staff to enter into discussions with each partner to determine how the Arizona Historical Society’s financial burden might be mitigated, and to assist in developing plans for the future of these valuable museums.
To pre-emptively terminate the existing Memoranda of Understanding without these discussions would put the museums’ missions and collections in jeopardy to the long-term detriment of Arizona’s history.
Submitted by Janice Klein, August 14, 2020
Thank you for your consideration.