Director of Arizona Historical Society shares that they do more than what meets the eye
May 17, 2018
James Burns, the new Executive Director of the Arizona Historical Society, shares the society’s mission and how they benefit the community is ways that are not widely known.
Burns says he’s been a fan of Arizona history since he moved here 30 years ago. Everything he’s done in his career has led up to earning this position as executive director, he says.
The Arizona Historical Society is comprised of 12 historic sites and museums spread across the state from Tucson to Flagstaff. They also have a publications division and a librarian archives.
“My vision for the society is for it to become first and foremost an educational institution,” Burns says. “Second, I think you will see us become more inclusive. You’ll see a more unified message.”
All of the sites are homes to exhibits, programs and various activities. Burns gives the example of an activity coming up in Flagstaff called the Wool Festival. It’s an event that will teach people where wool comes from and how it ends up in your closet.
“History is our collective stories,” Burns says. “I think museums across the board and across the nation haven’t always done the best job of telling the stories of all the groups in various communities. We’re very much aware of that. You’re going to see a lot more inclusion in our programming and exhibitions.”
The historical society was created by the legislature in 1864 which makes it the oldest and largest historical institution in the state. Two-thirds of the society continues to be funded by the state, while the rest is covered by earned income or through fundraising.
For someone who is interested in Arizona history and the museums, Burns says they should expect to feel welcomed as they walk through the door. They should be able to feel that their story is being told, too.
For more information on the Arizona Historical Society visit arizonahistoricalsociety.org.