The Arizona State Museum celebrated its 120th anniversary last week- basking in its glory days, predicting a grand future and plodding through its current crises.

In June, the museum will install its seventh director, Patrick Lyons, who inherits a venerable institution that faces significant challenges – or, as Lyons prefers, “opportunities.”

Lyons, associate director since 2009, would like to renovate the interior of the stately brick museum on the west end of the UA Mall to add needed exhibit space. But the building’s age, design quirks and historic status push the price tag to an estimated $60 million.

Museum staff spent five years designing a “core exhibit” for a planned science center and museum downtown. But that plan was discarded with the rest of the city of Tucson’s vision for a cultural complex as part of its Rio Nuevo downtown revitalization project.

Museum scientists have deep knowledge of Arizona history, but 10 to 12 of them plan to retire soon.

It’s not easy, running a museum.

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