The Heritage and Science Park downtown is a city plaza that hosts the famous Pizzeria Bianco, the historic Rosson house, and the highly visited Arizona Science Center, among a few other small shops and eateries. Two buildings in this plaza comprise the Arizona Science Center—the Science Center proper, which dominates the plaza with its concrete modern architecture, and its recent addition—Create, a makerspace that occupies the building that once was the Phoenix Museum of History. 
The Phoenix Museum of History existed since the 1920s but moved into its 20,000-square-foot space in Heritage Square in 1996, after a city of Phoenix bond granted $8 million for the new building. The museum hosted exhibits about “indigenous cultures, subsequent settlers, and the evolution of modern city life.” When the economic recession hit, the museum’s funding was cut (between $50,000 and $100,000 a year), and in the summer of 2009, the museum closed its doors to the public due to the deadly combination of being under-funded and under-visited.
An AZCentral article from June 2009 stated, “the board [of the Phoenix Museum of History] voted to explore a merger with the nearby Arizona Science Center (emphasis mine).” Science Center CEO Chevy Humphrey was quoted saying the two institutions hope to “explore joint opportunities to enhance our mutual offerings and the overarching mission that we both share.” She also added, we “are excited to explore the tremendous potential and long-term benefits this opportunity presents for us to better serve our Arizona communities.” 
It sounded like a beautiful partnership between two educational institutions—a benevolent institution willing to help its unfortunate neighbor for the sake of the public good. But is that what actually happened?
As an Arizona Science Center intern, I set out in the hopes of using my connections with the staff to engage in conversation about the relationship between the Phoenix Museum of History and Arizona Science Center. As it turned out, very few current employees at the Science Center had much information about the almost decade incorporation of collections from the Phoenix Museum of History. One person who did was current Director of Exhibits, Matt Schwartz. 
Schwartz confirmed what I suspected upon reading Ms. Humphrey’s words about both museums working together under joint mission statements—Arizona Science Center wanted to purchase the Phoenix Museum of History to have the building, not the collection within it. However, in order to acquire the Phoenix Museum of History’s building, the Science Center had to accept a few stipulations from the city. Because Heritage and Science Park is owned by the city, and the Phoenix Museum of History’s collections belong to the city, the collection had to remain available to the city’s residents. Basically, the Science Center could have the building as long as they agreed to devote a certain amount of space to the Museum of History’s artifacts.
The Arizona Science Center was hungry to expand, and in exchange, became the unwilling stewards of the collection. The closest someone comes to “officially” in charge of the collection is Mr. Schwartz, although he shared they were looking for someone who could better organize, catalogue, and oversee the collection. This, of course, depends on further funding.
For now, most of the collection rests in climate-controlled, locked, archived storage. Only about five percent is on display within the Science Center. While that does sound small, most museums can only display a small percentage of their total collections. To meet the requirements of square footage on display, they’ve been very creative and mostly have enormous decals that provide background historical information to relevant science exhibits.
In some places throughout the Science Center, historical artifacts are placed within exhibits that are thematically related. For example, in an exhibited titled “Many Hands Make a Home,” the theme is construction. Items on display include a bathroom cut in half, so visitors can see the intricacies involved behind simply flushing the toilet. Children are invited to press buttons that show the difference in how hot and cold water flow through a house, and work with blueprints to design their own home. On display from the Phoenix Museum of History is a wood irrigation pipe (shown below).
One cannot blame the Science Center for carefully selecting items from the history collection that are “unique, scientific, and historically important.” Schwartz stated that “it’s great to see the historical context of where we were and how we got here.” It’s also “a unique thing I don’t know if any other science center does.”
Schwartz acknowledges, though, “it’s not what people are coming here for” and “I’d rather have that space” currently being taken up by historical items no one is paying attention to, with exhibits that would engage visitors.
To see how many people interacted with these historical displays, I spent an hour sitting near a large carriage that takes up a space about twenty feet long and ten feet deep, otherwise prime real estate for an interactive exhibit (shown above). In that hour, I tracked fourteen interactions. Most people were using the wooden posts that kept visitors out as a place to rest or lean on. Two people tried to use it to call people over, such as “ooh! Look! A carriage!” (8-year-old girl), but it could not compete with the other activities available. Only one person (a bored chaperone) actually read the sign in front of it.
While the history collections may not be attractions in their own right, at least some are displayed, and they are all kept safe. But for the most part, the Phoenix Museum of History is suffering the fate of too many old items—stashed away in storage. The future of the collection is uncertain. Hopefully, in the coming years, whether inspired by an upgrade to the Science Center’s budget, or a grassroots movement eager to revive a need for history, someone will clear the dust off the shelves and face the task of doing this collection justice.
 In fact, the sign still stands there today, confusing visitors who notice it.
 Lynn Trimble. “The City of Phoenix Needs a New History Museum. Here’s Why.” Phoenix New Times. May 23, 2017
 Jahna Berry. “Phoenix Museum of History closing June 30.” The Arizona Republic. June 18, 2009.
 The Arizona Science Center doesn’t even have anyone with the word “collections” in their title. But being that I’m interested in the nature of how the Science Center has embedded some of the Phoenix Museum of History collections within its existing exhibit halls, Mr. Schwartz seemed to be the man for the job.
 They do loan out items from the collection. For example, there is a Wells Fargo Bank Museum and the Phoenix Museum of History has a Medal of Honor once earned by a Wells Fargo employee. The Science Center also receives requests from descendants of residents who once donated objects to the Phoenix Museum of History. This is a topic that will require further research, as it is apparently against tax codes to return a donation.
 The Science Center is in the process of applying for a $70 million grant to upgrade their exhibits. Another thing a few have mentioned but no one can explain is this: there seems to be the idea that if in some future, the buildings that host the Science Center and CREATE were to be physically connected, that would somehow dissolve the requirement to have the Phoenix Museum of History sign and its collections within.
 There are people who believe that we should resurrect/rebuild a Phoenix History Museum. After all, the cities of Tempe, Chandler, and Mesa all have history museums that help the community see where we’ve been and are meeting places to discuss how to move forward.