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Extended Entries to the ASDM Scrapbook

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Statement of Purpose

(This statement was written in the early 1970's by John Jameson, Chief Administrative Officer. With only minor changes it continues to express the philosophy of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum today.)

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a specialized type of organization, combining the features of zoo and botanical garden into a unique Museum devoted to the interpretation of the geographic area comprised of Arizona, Sonora and the peninsula of Baja California, and including the Gulf of California with its desert islands. Major emphasis is on the Sonoran Desert. By confining the effort to a well-defined area, as opposed to a worldwide collection, it has been possible to avoid the usual menagerie approach, which often results in a disorganized jumble of animals with little apparent relationship to any educational effort.

We feel it is important for zoos to stop the postage-stamp type of collection of animals and instead concentrate on the business of Conservation and Education. Men can justify keeping "wild" animals in captivity only if, by doing so, they can teach others to appreciate, to enjoy and to protect their non-human companions, for they, too, have a share in the fate which man brings upon himself. In our case, to accomplish this goal, we have chosen to limit our geographical scope and to spend our time and money displaying and interpreting native plants and animals.

Our methods of display include the extensive use of museum techniques, with as naturalistic conditions as possible, combined with comprehensive labeling and graphics. This approach is supplemented by a vigorous education program. Funds are spent for research on local biological and conservation projects and certain endangered animals.

Our overall purpose is to act as a trust agency for the-yet-to-come generations of man, animals and plants. Our concept can be applied anywhere, and it is our hope that zoos and other institutions throughout the world will attempt to acquaint people with the life about them as an important basic step toward the appreciation of all life with which we share this planet. We must somehow instill in the minds and hearts of individuals a true awareness of this life around them, and their potential for destroying or preserving it. Upon this awareness, in the final analysis, depends the survival of man himself.