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November-December 2012

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Museum Notes


On 1 December will be the exciting grand opening for the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in its new home in the heart of Dallas, Texas. The five-floor, 180,000-square-foot museum has been under construction since November 2009. Of special interest to readers of Rocks & Minerals will be the gem and mineral hall and the paleontology wing, which boasts an 80-foot-long dinosaur as well as a 25-foot Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum, a horned dinosaur named after the Perot family, the museum's namesake and chief donor to the $185-million facility.

The floor beneath the dinosaurs houses an immense 3,700-pound geode from Uruguay with a steering wheel that, when spun, closes and opens the massive formation. Geometric imitations of crystal structures jut from the walls above the display area.

Caption: An artist's rendition of a portion of the gem and mineral hall of the soon to be open Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.

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


The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, in Hillsboro, Oregon, has the John Veevaert collection of benitoite, California's state gem since 1985, on exhibit until 18 March 2013. The fifty-five specimens in the display represent about 20 percent of Veevaert's entire collection, assembled during the past thirty-two years via field collecting and purchases. There are several themes in the display, including twinning of benitoite and neptunite, localities in addition to the Benitoite Gem mine (for example, some in Japan and Arkansas, as well as several other California localities), four specimens showing the range of “straight from the mine” look to a finished specimen with stages in between, odd habits and rare crystal faces for benitoite, faceted benitoite and uncut gem rough, exceptional specimens, and an idealized wooden crystal model made in Germany. Specimens in Veevaert's collection range from micro-sized to some in excess of 30 cm, but those in the museum display average about 8 cm. This is the first time a portion of the Veevaert collection has been on public exhibition.

Caption: This incredible specimen, one of many from the John Veevaert collection on display at the Rice Museum, has three fully terminated crystals of benitoite, to 0.8 cm across, as well as joaquinite and neptunite crystals. Nicknamed the “Sushi Plate,” it is 3.1 × 2.4 × 1.3 cm and is from the Benitoite Gem mine, San Benito County, California. The joaquinite in the center is twinned, and the largest neptunite is doubly terminated.


This past summer the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum, on the campus of Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, proudly announced that Susan Robinson was named honorary curator by Dr. Ted Bornhorst, museum director. During the past sixteen years, Robinson has volunteered countless hours at the museum working with the collection, and she has played an important role in the layout and design of museum exhibits, where her artistic flare is highly evident. Next to her husband, Dr. George Robinson, curator of the museum, she perhaps knows the collection better than anyone, since she helped pack, unpack, and reorganize it during the recent move to its current new location, all as a volunteer! Bornhorst says, “I cannot think of anyone more deserving of the title of honorary curator than Susan. She is a curator in heart and soul.”

Susan Robinson, of course, writes the series of articles on artists for Rocks & Minerals.


The Tellus Science Museum, in Cartersville, Georgia, hosted their annual one-day mineral symposium on 18 August, featuring three outstanding talks on various aspects of gems and minerals, given by Dr. Robert Lauf and Quintin and Willow Wight.

On 20 October the Cincinnati Museum Center, in Cincinnati, Ohio, celebrated National Fossil Day with a full day of hands-on fossil and geology-related activities that engaged visitors of all ages.

The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, in Socorro, New Mexico, will be home to the thirty-third annual New Mexico Mineral Symposium the weekend of 10–11 November. One of the symposium's highlights is the opportunity to tour the Mineralogical Museum on campus.


On display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is the Buzz & Bernadine's Butterfly Brooch Collection. The exhibit, which opened 1 May and will continue for one year, fills five cases with sixteen jeweled butterflies. All the jewelry was designed by Bernadine and is fashioned out of rare gemstones from the Buzz and Bernadine collection. Buzz, a talented gem cutter, cut the main gems used in the butterflies; the metalwork is done in 18-karat gold. The brooches represent only a third of their entire jewelry collection. To see all of the butterflies and read detailed descriptions of the gemstones they are made of, the museum has posted a webpage for them:

Caption: Some of the gemstone butterflies on display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Upper left: The Yogo Sapphire Butterfly; the blue sapphires, from Yogo Gulch, Montana, are accented by rainbow feldspars from Madagascar and colorless diamonds. Upper right: The Hiddenite Butterfly; the central piece of the brooch is a 10.01-carat green hiddenite from North Carolina, surrounded by rainbow feldspars from Madagascar, colorless diamonds, and green tourmalines. The eyes are red beryl from the Wah Wah Mountains of Utah. Lower left: The Rhodochrosite Butterfly; made entirely of gems from Mexico, the brooch includes a 13.51-carat rhodocrosite in the center, with apatite and opal covering the wings. The green eyes are sphene. Lower right: The Brown Titanite Butterfly; bringing together spectacular titanites in three different colors, the brooch features green titanite from Madagascar and brown and yellow titanite from Pakistan.


In October a new mineral museum, the Bruce Dice Mineralogical Museum, opened its doors near the geology department in North Hall at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dice, a 1948 alumnus of Calvin, is an eighty-five-year-old geologist from Houston, Texas, who put together the more than three-hundred-piece collection during the past thirty years. The museum showcases a portion of the specimens, which will rotate over time. Dice plans to continue to add specimens to the collection. The museum is open to the public and staffed by docents.


Running through 31 March 2013 at the Houston Museum of Natural Science is the world premiere of Gems of the Medici; it opened 26 October. In the mid-1400s, many celebrated artists, goldsmiths, silversmiths, and engravers were attracted by the abundance of wealth in the city of Florence, Italy, especially that of the Medici family. For almost three hundred years the family steered the course of art history, funding workshops and commissioning and collecting masterpieces of art and antiquity. Their legendary collections, of which the collection renowned as the Gems of the Medici is perhaps the best known, represented the wealth of this great dynasty. The exhibition highlights some of the oldest and most unique pieces of the Medici collections, some dating from the first century.

Caption: Now on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on loan from the Museo degli Argenti, Florence, Italy. Above left: Vase with Cover, lapis lazuli, gold, and enamels. Above right: Nativity (obverse), Adoration of the Magi (reverse), onyx cameo, enameled gold mount with diamonds and sapphire. Left: Chariot with Male Figure, chalcedony and gold.


The Weis Earth Science Museum, in Menasha, Wisconsin, recently named two recipients of its annual awards. Mike Riesch, of Gillete, Wisconsin, was named the 2012 recipient of the Donna Nolte Award, given to those who have been inspirational or innovative in encouraging others, especially young people, to appreciate Earth's mineral and fossil treasures and to enjoy geological hobbies. Riesch is the founder/director of Earthaven Museum in Gillete.

Mark Shurilla, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was chosen as the 2012 recipient of the Katherine G. Nelson Award, presented in honor of those who have made outstanding contributions to earth science in Wisconsin or Wisconsinites who have made outstanding contributions to earth science in general. An amber expert later in life, Shurilla was responsible for making the Silurian trilobite Gravicalymene celebra the official state fossil of Wisconsin in 1986. Sadly, this award was presented posthumously as Shurilla passed away in May.

Rocks & Minerals welcomes museum news items and photographs for this column. Correspondence should be sent to Marie Huizing, 5341 Thrasher Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45247;

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