Max Ary has a three-year prison term hanging over his head after being convicted of stealing artifacts from NASA and a Kansas space museum, but he still is welcome at Omniplex. Ary, who is free pending an appeal, has been used periodically as a consultant for the Oklahoma City museum's space exhibits, Executive Director Don Otto said Friday. Ary started putting together some of the exhibits when he was at Omniplex. He was placed on leave after being indicted in April 2005, then his contract as director was not renewed when it expired several months later.
Hiring choiceOtto said Ary's expertise made him the logical choice to finish up the work he had started at Omniplex. Otto said he had no qualms about hiring Ary, despite his November 2005 conviction on 12 counts of theft, fraud and money laundering in federal court in Wichita. "This museum has no problem with Max Ary,” Otto said. Those sentiments were echoed by Omniplex board President James Farris, but board member Butch Freeman said he didn't know Ary was being paid as a museum consultant. "On the surface, it sounds a little concerning,” said Freeman, the Oklahoma County treasurer. "Certainly from an appearance standpoint I can see where there would be a cause for concern.” Otto declined to tell The Oklahoman how much Ary has been paid as a consultant. "That isn't information we share,” he said.
The futureOtto said museums often employ consultants when their specific expertise is needed. "That's the way the system works,” Otto said. "A lot of people in the museum business moonlight, if you will.” Otto said he intends to use additional experts while making over Omniplex during the next decade. Jim Remar, senior vice president for the Kansas Cosmosphere, acknowledged it is fairly common for museums to hire consultants for some tasks. He declined to comment on Ary, the space museum's former director. Contributing: Staff Writer Bryan Dean
NewsOK.com has disabled the comments for this article.
Max AryFormer Omniplex director.