The Way It Wasn't

Lake Havasu City did not exist in 1912, and Teddy Roosevelt did not visit a Phoenix opera house in 1902--even though exhibits at the Marley Center suggest those events did occur.

And those two faux pas are hardly the only factual inaccuracies at the new state historical museum, according to several professional historians who spoke with New Times.

The historians acknowledge that the mistakes are minor. But they are, nevertheless, mistakes. And history, the historians say, is supposed to deal with facts.

Here are a few more of the errors and inconsistencies contained in Marley Center exhibits, followed by explanation from Nancy Dallet, head of the Marley Center's museum department:

* The town of Sierra Vista, created in 1956, is listed on a map in the Foundations of Central Arizona History gallery. The gallery covers the years 1860 to 1912.

Dallet: The map is for orientation purposes, so that visitors know where central Arizona is located. The map is not a reflection of history.

* A saloon scene in the Foundations gallery supposedly takes place at 40th Street and Van Buren. That address did not exist at the time.

Dallet: It is true that the address did not exist then, but we used it to help visitors understand where the saloon was located.

* In the "Desert Blooms" exhibit, a crate in the engineer's office display is stamped "Bureau of Reclamation." The name "Bureau of Reclamation" did not exist at the time.

Dallet: It is correct that the name "Bureau of Reclamation" did not exist then. But the engineer's office is, itself, a fabrication. We wanted people to get a feel for what the engineer's office might have been like.

* In the Desert Blooms gallery, a fiberoptic map of canals is inaccurate; the map shows canals in use, when actually they were not being used.

Dallet: We had problems with the manufacturer of the display. The Arizona Canal lights up at the wrong time. If that has not been corrected, it will be.

* Not all photographs in the Etched in Time database section of the Foundations gallery are copyrighted. (This opens up the museum to lawsuits for violation of the copyright law.)

Dallet's response: There are more than 300 photographs in the database. A few slipped by us. The photos will be removed.

--Terry Greene Sterling


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