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November-December 2011

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Museum Notes

MUSEUM DEDICATED

Dedication for the 9,000-square-foot A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum, in Houghton, Michigan, took place on 4 August of this year, with a crowd of invited guests, dignitaries, and even descendants of A. E. Seaman present. The museum is part of the Michigan Technological University campus. After the speeches and ribbon-cutting, visitors to the grand opening toured the two galleries—the Beauty of Minerals and the Keweenaw—that are now open, as well as the large gift shop.

The museum's twenty-five thousand specimens will be housed in the new facility, with displays branching off of Thomas D. Shaffner Hall, a tribute to Shaffner, a 1957 graduate of Michigan Tech who made the new museum project possible with a pledged $1 million gift. The museum had previously been in the Electrical Energy Resources Center, where it resided from 1978 to 2010. Prior to that, it had moved several times to various on-campus buildings.

Caption: The newly dedicated A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum.

Caption: The newly dedicated A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum.

CURATOR NAMED

Dr. Stuart Mills has been appointed to a new three-year position as senior curator in mineralogy at Museum Victoria, in Melbourne, Australia, completing a full circle in his career. After starting as a volunteer at the museum in 2001, Mills gained his BScHons degree and PhD at the University of Melbourne before embarking on a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, in mid-2007.

A few months at the L. A. County Museum of Natural History, working with Dr. Anthony “Tony” Kampf, followed early this year before Mills was the successful applicant for the position in Melbourne, where he will be working with Dr. William “Bill” Birch and Dermot Henry. Mills has a great enthusiasm for minerals, and his skill as a crystallographer is reflected in his impressive publication record and his work with the International Mineralogical Association's Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification. The Museum Victoria staff welcomes him back.

 Caption: Stuart Mills, now at Museum Victoria in Melbourne.

Caption: Stuart Mills, now at Museum Victoria in Melbourne.

Caption: Curator George Robinson and his wife, Susan (a volunteer), have spearheaded the packing, moving, unpacking, and exhibition of the Seaman's vast mineral collection.

Caption: Curator George Robinson and his wife, Susan (a volunteer), have spearheaded the packing, moving, unpacking, and exhibition of the Seaman's vast mineral collection.

MINE RESCUE EXHIBIT

The extraordinary rescue in October of last year of thirty-three miners trapped for more than two months after a partial collapse of the San José mine in Chile is revisited in Against All Odds: Rescue at the Chilean Mine, a multimedia exhibition that opened at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History on 5 August—one year to the day after the miners were trapped.

The temporary exhibition recounts the historic event in English and Spanish. Objects on display include a Fénix 2 steel rescue capsule used for testing in the shaft before the rescue, personal mementos and stories from the miners, new video footage, and rock samples from the mine. The exhibition, which was produced by the Smithsonian in collaboration with the Chilean government and the miners, focuses on the geology of the Andes Mountains region where the mine is located, why the miners were there, how the mine collapsed, and how the miners survived in the hot, dark, corkscrew mine workings for sixty-nine days It culminates with the heroic rescue, including a display of the capsule and one of the large drill bits used to reach the miners nearly half a mile underground. The exhibition continues through May 2012.

TEMPORARILY CLOSED

The main building of the National Museum at Wenceslas Square in Prague, which houses the mineral, fossil, and gemstone collections, closed on 7 July of this year for reconstruction. Built during the years 1885–1891, the historic building is one of the oldest scientific institutions in the Czech Republic and was badly in need of restoration. June 2015 is set as the expected completion date for the entire project.

Those who visited Prague on their way to the Mindat Conference in Poland were still able to view the collections before the closure went into effect. Although the rather old-fashioned, unlighted display cabinets had a certain charm, they didn't do the splendid mineral specimens justice, so it is hoped that the mineral hall will benefit from the planned changes.

Caption: The Neo-Renaissance exterior of the National Museum in Prague, an architectural symbol of the Czech National Revival of the 1880s.

Caption: The Neo-Renaissance exterior of the National Museum in Prague, an architectural symbol of the Czech National Revival of the 1880s.

Caption: Opulent main staircase of the museum, an extravaganza of polished limestone and serpentine lined with medallions of kings and emperors.

Caption: Opulent main staircase of the museum, an extravaganza of polished limestone and serpentine lined with medallions of kings and emperors.

GOLD HEIST

Fifteen very fine gold specimens were stolen from the main exhibit hall of the Sterling Hill Mining Museum, in Ogdensburg, New Jersey, on the afternoon of 27 July of this year. The smash-and-grab theft was done within a twenty-minute time frame in full daylight. Photos of most of the specimens are pictured on the museum's website, www.sterlinghillminingmuseum.org. (An overview photo of the Sterling Hill complex was shown on page 443 in the September/October issue, in the article on a wedding held underground there.) A $25,000 reward is being offered for the recovery of these specimens and capture of the thief. Anyone with information should contact the museum at 973/209-7212 and ask for Richard Hauck, Robert Hauck, or Earl Verbeek, or send an email to Earl Verbeek at everbeek@ptd.net.

Caption: Two of the specimens stolen from the Sterling Hill Mining Museum. Above: A 5.5 × 4.5 × 2.5-cm gold nugget from KM88, Estado Bolivar, El Dorado, Venezuela.

Caption: Two of the specimens stolen from the Sterling Hill Mining Museum. Above: A 5.5 × 4.5 × 2.5-cm gold nugget from KM88, Estado Bolivar, El Dorado, Venezuela.

Caption: A crystallized gold specimen, 8 × 3.5 × 3 cm, locality unknown.

Caption: A crystallized gold specimen, 8 × 3.5 × 3 cm, locality unknown.

COLOR SPONSORS for the Museum Notes column for 2012 are John and Maryanne Fender of Fender Natural Resources, Richardson, Texas.

WELL ENDOWED

In late August the Denver Museum of Nature & Science announced the establishment of the Tim and Kathryn Earth Sciences Fund. This $1 million fund is dedicated to support the museum's Earth Sciences Department and institutes the first endowed curator position at the museum. Museum curator Dr. James W. Hagadorn has received the title of “Tim and Kathryn Ryan Curator of Geology.”

Readers of Rocks & Minerals will recall that Hagadorn was an author in our September/October issue (“Hidden Russian Treasures: Mineral Carvings at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science,” pages 414–419).

 

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