AG: Mineral museum collection not stolen [Editor: then where are ALL the pieces?]

Earlier this year state lawmakers heard rumors that valuable displays from the shuttered Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum had been lost or stolen.

State Sen. Don Shooter wrote a Feb. 16 letter to Attorney General Mark Brnovich and the auditor general, asking authorities to launch an "IMMEDIATE investigation." The items in question "are not inconsequential" and may consist of "moon rocks, meteorites and other extremely valuable specimens," valued at thousands of dollars, he wrote.

The attorney general began its investigation.

That same month, a supporter of a legislation to reinstitute the museum, voiced concerns that specimens from the museum were being sold on eBay. He referenced the online description of a mineral collection, which claimed it was "the display from the Arizona Mineral Museum from Curator Lee Hammon," who watched over the museum collection in the 1970s. He has since died. The advertisement said the collection consisted of two pallets weighing 700 pounds each, an AG report states.

The rocks had been sold for $6,499 to a couple in Michigan. Shipping costs alone were about $2,200.

An agent initiated an "undercover interaction" with the eBay seller and asked if additional specimens "connected to the AZ Mineral Museum Collection" were for sale.

Officials said it soon became clear the items weren't from the museum.

The seller told the investigator "the specimens were from a personal collection of Lee Hammons," the Attorney General's Office report states. The seller sent photos of a second collection she was attempting to sell, which the agent sent to an administrative officer for the Arizona Historical Society, which has overseen the museum's inventory since its closure.

Read more on azcentral.com and then read a response by Richard Zimmerman, provided exclusively to AFA, who has spent many years involved with the former Mineral and Mining Museum:

While the Attorney General concluded that the eBay sale did not involve minerals from the museum, the AHS cannot really know if the mineral collection is "wholly intact" as stated in the article. In obvious violation of state statutes, it has scattered parts of the collection over the state, and a recent Auditor General’s report shows that it does not have an adequate collection management plan.

Furthermore, why did the investigation focus only on the eBay sale?  The AHS is in obviously and knowingly violating [sic] state statutes. The AHS had two representatives at the table when the statutory provisions for transferring the mineral museum to the AHS were drafted.

Specifically, sections of Arizona Revised Statute 41-827 requires that:

A. 2. The Arizona historical society shall operate and maintain the centennial museum that houses the mining and mineral museum ---- to maintain the mining and mineral museum as the state depository for collecting, cataloging and displaying mining artifacts and specimens of various ores, gemstones, lapidary material and other valuable mineral specimens.

B. The Arizona historical society shall maintain the items, artifacts and other inventory received for display or storage, including equipment and outdoor displays, and shall not sell or otherwise dispose of materials received for the centennial museum or the mining and mineral museum.

Clearly, the AHS was directed to continue operating the mineral museum within the building along with the centennial museum. The fact that their centennial museum project failed did not relieve them from the responsibility for operating the mineral museum. Furthermore, they have been funded to do so every year since.
The AHS has disposed of equipment, materials, displays, and furnishings. Recently refurbished display cases will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace if they cannot be recovered.  The AHS has also attempted to remove the outdoor mining equipment displays. In a recent board meeting, they reiterated their illegal plans for the future use of the building. They hope to do so with executive orders, in defiance of the legislature and existing law.

Complete details on lawless and unethical AHS activities are available on the blog Mineral Museum Madness at www.minmumad.blogspot.com
 

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