Dr. Edward Petuch and Mr. Bob Whitby do not need me to defend them. It amazes me that someone who, by her own admission, is new to the area and has only visited the museum twice can make so many supposedly knowledgeable statements. The author of the first letter does not deserve a response, since he did not have the courage to sign his name.
I would like now to say something about the position of the BCAS, Inc.'s relation (or lack thereof) to the Graves Museum. The BCAS, Inc., has excavated every major archaeological site in Broward County since 1959. Combine our finds with the collections that have been donated to the society, and you have an extensive collection of artifacts. It was never the intention of the BCAS, Inc., to give up all rights, title, and ownership of the artifacts and collections of the society.
When the society raised objections to the bylaws, our attorney, Karl Adler, told us to go ahead and approve them -- we could change them later. In hindsight we recognize this advice represented a conflict of interest since he was representing both sides of the question.
We have repeatedly tried to solve our differences by opening a dialogue with the Graves Museum. At the request of the then-president of the Board of Governors, Skip Johnson, we sent a formal request to the museum asking for a meeting. This request was ignored. It is very difficult to solve problems if one of the parties will not sit down and discuss the problems.
I would now like to address the attack on Gypsy Graves. I find this to be the most offensive part of the letters. Gypsy Graves is one of the most ethical, moral, and honest people I have ever met. It was her vision that started the museum in 1980. No, Gypsy did not know how to run a museum at that point. She set out to learn how to do it by acquiring publications from the American Association of Museums and talking with other museum professionals. The board of governors did not even know about the Museum Assessment Program until Gypsy made them aware of it. She is a truly special person who has the unique ability to make ordinary people believe they can do extraordinary things.
The Graves Museum will stand as a testament to Gypsy, who is at her best when she is teaching the schoolchildren of South Florida. The accusation was made that the BCAS, Inc., is against schoolchildren in the museum. Nothing could be further from the truth. Children and museums go hand in hand. I spent my childhood attending classes at the Museum of Science in Miami. This experience taught me the importance of education in museums and the need for balance between education and scientific research. There is no such balance at the Graves Museum.
In conclusion I would like to issue a challenge to the Board of Governors. I am willing to sit down and discuss our problems at any time. I make only two stipulations: that our attorney be present at any meeting and that any resolution that comes from this meeting be put into writing, signed by both parties.
It is not the wish of the BCAS, Inc., to take legal action against a museum whose members both past and present worked so long and so hard to establish it. It is our hope that our differences can be settled in an amicable fashion so that the museum may continue to grow. We only wish to have the rights and privileges that were granted to us within the bylaws of the Graves Museum.
Patricia K. Flynn, President Broward County Archaeological Society, Inc. via the Internet