UPDATE: Due to ongoing deliberations over the future of the New Jersey State Museum I have decided that it is in the best interest of the museum to remove this post, but I will continue to write about this story as more knowledge becomes publicly available. And, just so there is no misunderstanding, what I stated in the previous version of this post I wrote as a private citizen and not a representative of the museum itself - I am the equivalent of a volunteer and not employed by the museum.
Nevertheless, I feel it appropriate the outline what is publicly known about this controversy in the place of my earlier editorial. As of July 1 the museum will be placed under the care of Rutgers University - it is presently unknown what the intentions of the school are for the museum. Since no funding for the museum was set aside in the state budget for the next fiscal year and Rutgers has had its funding repeatedly slashed by the state over the past several years, this could place the fate of the museum and its unique collections in jeopardy should Rutgers decide it does not want the institution (as well as the state library and Thomas Edison State College, which it is also being given by the state government).
If you care about the future of the museum and the research being actively pursued there, I urge you to voice your support for it through e-mails to New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Rutgers University president Richard McCormick.
A sad but true dillema that university presidents face is as a direct result of a nationally rated football or basketball program in the following year there is an increase in admisions. More admissions means a higher quality of students to select from. Some wiseass years ago proposed that each university should sponser a crack mercenary unit that could be sent whereever needed in this big bad world. Pitifully, it actually makes perfect sense. We could cut defense spending by 90% keeping our cruise missles, aircraft carriers, and college sponsered crack mercenary units and still act as the world's policemen. I love science and appreciate your hard work, good luck with your book sales, I'll make sure to increase it by one.
That's just awful. Also add in the fact that New Jersey has virtually no natural history museum of its own otherwise, unlike many other large states who have a museum of natural history in addition to the state museum, it means that New Jersey will have a huge loss in the knowledge about its state.
And selling the fossils! When you see an individual selling fossils found on their property, that is at least understandable, as the fossils are found on their land and they may need the money to pay the bills or buy money. But a state selling them off is just sickening. Indeed, I thought there was even a law prohibiting the sale of vertebrate fossils found on public land.
This isn't the first time something like this has happened. I mean, look at the Laramie museum, they closed it down, despite protests from state residents and other paleontologists, and when said people complained louder, the dean said they should be thankful he didn't sell off the fossils.
Is this is what science has come to in this world? I mean, it seems like every politician that has come into office thinks science is just some throwaway issue. Look how often science has been made fun of in the news, whenever pork barrel projects are attacked, its always the bear studies or the protection of museum collections that comes under heat. And at the same time the overall amount of knowledge in this country is dropping faster than an azdarchid tied to a cruise liner.
And paleontologists get the brunt of it. Paleontologists are oftentimes looked at with more disdain than other scientists, compared to bacteriologists, energy scientists, and climatologists (though everyone seems to get mocked now). Even other scientists look down on paleontologists (remember Dawkins' quotes in Brian's last post)?
Hopefully we can get the Blogosaurus Rex fired up over this issue, and fight back against this.
What's even worse is that in both cases, the reason the university needs to cut/is unwilling to accept the museum is because of sports programs. I thought people went to college to learn, not to play football.
I left NJ (and Rutgers) several years ago, but I have fond memories of the NJ State Museum. I hope it survives this administration.
I may have actually been on the fossil-hunting trip that found the bottosaurus you're working with! It must have been around 1993 or 1994 - I can't remember exactly, but a geologist in my church brought me along to a dig at the green marl pit and someone in the group found a fossilized crocodile. I thought it was a partial skeleton, but it may have been just a skull...
And just exactly where is the Federal Government (under Obama) who so many of the paleontologists I know were certain would rescue all of the cultural institiutions across this country with massive influxes of $$$$ to improve facilities, save jobs and fund research? Seems like he and his administration have exactly the same contempt for science and museums that we so readily attribute solely to the Conservatives. We need to face the fact that today, the public as a whole does not care about museums. They don't wish to vist them, and they don't wish to support them with their tax dollars, which the Obama administration is, and will be, collecting in greater and grater numbers to support their boondoggle of a Health Care (read "Insurance") program.
I am disappointed in the one sided presentation and tone of this posting, and the cheap political shot. The economic reality is that New Jersey is broke. New Jersey has the highest property taxes and insurance costs in the nation. The current Governor was elected by the people overwhelmingly to fix the years of neglect that let the state get into the mess it is. Taxing the rich even more is not the answer. The rich are moving out. The Golden Goose is dead. The only responsible thing to do is to cut spending. I hope the museum makes out okay. Sorry to talk politics, but there has to be a balanced viewpoint presented to this posting.
You are right Dinodad. Politics either bores or depresses me, science fills me with wonder. I didn't mean to sound so ideological (almost imposible not to be in politics), just thought provoking. No more politics from me.
Taxing the rich even more is not the answer.
OK, how about we just stop lowering their taxes, then?
@Dinodad - #6
I am disappointed in the one sided presentation and tone of this posting
Of course you are, it is correct and shows up NJ Republicans as the idiots they are.
The current Governor was elected by the people overwhelmingly
He got 48.5% of the vote. Corzine got 44.9%. Hardly "Overwhelming".
to fix the years of neglect that let the state get into the mess it is.
A large number of them likely voted for him because Corzine showed himself to be incapable. I seriously doubt they voted for him to fix the way Whitman screwed up the state.
Taxing the rich even more is not the answer.
Actually, it'd be a good step in the right direction.
The rich are moving out.
The Golden Goose is dead.
Because Republicans are throttling it.
The only responsible thing to do is to cut spending.
The only responsible thing to do is to raise taxes. The Rich are getting a free ride in NJ.
but there has to be a balanced viewpoint presented to this posting.
Watch a lot of Fox, do you? The truth doesn't need to be "balanced" with lies.
just... bloody awful. Museums have it so rough in this country. This is yet another sad example of this country's growing disdain for science. wish there was something i could do...
The University of Wyoming Geology museum has reopened, thanks to an endowment donated by Brainerd "Nip" and Anne Mears of Laramie that has been matched by the State of Wyoming. The University of Wyoming has appointed a task force that will make long term plans for the museum to segue with and enhance the mission and goals of the University and the Department of Geology and Geophysics. This seems to be nearly the reverse of the current situation in New Jersey.
Science needs to be seen as on the cutting edge of how we propel ourselves out of our current economic, ecological, and energy related difficulties.
Slashing spending in key areas is no more the answer for our society than it would be wise for an individual like Brian to stop investing in his education and his future and spend his time hiding under his bed instead.
We can't move forward by cutting back on access to educational resources such as that represented by the New Jersey State Museum.
@10 I followed the link from your post and noticed from your website that you have a very interesting paleontological grand vision! Maybe you really are the answer to your own question.
Brian's achievements in book publishing should be an inspiration.
I also recommend reading "Three Cups of Tea", which has nothing at all to do with Paleontology, but does demonstrate how someone with no resources can ultimately accomplish much.
I disagree that no one wants to visit museums. Whenever I go to the AMNH in New York, it's packed with kids, no matter what day. Not only that, but the primate storage area is difficult to get space to work in, because so many scholars in this area are doing research there.
If the NJ state museum closes, not only does it present a problem for the fossils housed there, but all of the archaeological remains collected in CRM excavations. Like most places in North America, the state museum here is responsible for the curation of these artifacts, because they technically belong to our state government. If the museum closes down, what happens to these thousands (if not tens of thousands) artifacts? Where will they go? They generally have no monetary value, so can't be sold like the fossils, but nor can they be simply thrown away. Someone has to house them. Perhaps Christie can put them in his house?
And I agree with Lynxreign: people here didn't vote for Christie because they liked him, they voted for him to get Corzine out of office. Not that it has done us any good; both men are incompetent and corrupt and are driving NJ further into the ground.
The major reason that Christie is getting away with this is because the information regarding the closing is not known outside of a very few people, mostly those with contacts in the State Museum. We have to get out this information to as wide an audience as possible. Contact Sen. Sarlo, Chairman of the Budget and Appropriations, (201)804-8118 and urge him to demand that Christie restore the funds and ask how you can help out. Contact your local newspaper and request why they haven't written stories about eliminating funds from the State Museum and transferring the running and maintenance of the museum to Rutgers University.
If the NJ state museum closes, not only does it present a problem for the fossils housed there, but all of the archaeological remains collected in CRM excavations. Like most places in North America, the state museum here is responsible for the curation of these artifacts, because they technically belong to our state government.