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March-April 2014

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Museum Notes

DEDICATION CEREMONIES

On 5 October 2013, the Meyer Science Center at Wheaton College, in Wheaton, Illinois, hosted a formal dedication ceremony to honor Houston-based Arthur E. Smith (now deceased) and unveil the exhibition of some of the thousands of worldwide mineral specimens he bequeathed to his alma mater. In addition to students, faculty, and collector friends from near and far, the event was attended by his widow, Nancy. In all, Smith donated some thirty thousand specimens, including minerals, fossils, and carvings. Those not on display are part of the geology department's reference collection.

Dr. Steven Moshier, head of the geology department at Wheaton College, and Nancy Smith at the October opening of the Arthur E. Smith mineral display.

Dr. Steven Moshier, head of the geology department at Wheaton College, and Nancy Smith at the October opening of the Arthur E. Smith mineral display.

Visitors at the October opening of the Marvin and Jane Rausch Mineral Gallery at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Visitors at the October opening of the Marvin and Jane Rausch Mineral Gallery at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

On 19 October 2013, a new exhibition was opened in Merrill Hall at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst. Called the Marvin and Jane Rausch Mineral Gallery, it features in excess of two hundred specimens from the Rausch collection. After Marvin's death, a longtime family friend and mineral collector, who prefers to remain anonymous, made the specimen donation possible. Marvin's widow, Jane, was on hand to cut the ribbon, along with dignitaries, faculty members, and friends from the local mineral community. Custom-made cases, also from Rausch, house the display, which includes many specimens from western Massachusetts.

ONE HUNDRED AND STILL COUNTING

On 6 November 2013, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County celebrated having its doors open to visitors for one hundred years! (It was originally known as the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science, and Art.) An anniversary party included free admission on 5 and 6 November, free souvenirs, a display of materials to be put in a time capsule that will be opened in 2113, and the unveiling of the new exhibition Just Add Water.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Also from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County comes news that it will again be offering one of its fabulous travel opportunities, this time a ten-day European Gem & Mineral Experience to France and Germany from 27 June to 7 July of this year. The tour begins with a visit to the wonderful Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines mineral and gem show (Alsace, France). From there, it's a short hop to Idar-Oberstein, Germany, Europe's historic gem-cutting and gem-trading center. Next are visits to historic mines and the beautiful Mosel River Valley (vineyards and historic castles included). The tour culminates with stops in Freiberg to see the fabulous collection at the School of Mines and in Dresden to see the Green Vault, which houses the treasures of Saxony, including the famous Dresden Green Diamond. Participants will be treated to exclusive behind-the-scenes tours in Idar and Freiberg.

Dr. Eloïse Gaillou (associate curator of mineral sciences) and Dr. Tony Kampf (curator emeritus of mineral sciences) will lead the group, providing expert commentary on the minerals, gems, geology, and history of the region. The cost of the tour is $4,000, which includes food, lodging, activities, and ground transportation, but does not include transportation to and from the starting and ending points of the tour in Europe. For further information, contact the museum's Gem and Mineral Council at gmc@nhm.org.

ON DISPLAY IN LONDON

Drawing crowds at the Museum of London is a major new exhibition, the priceless Cheapside Hoard: London's Lost Jewels. The exquisite pieces were discovered in 1912 buried in a cellar on Cheapside in the city of London. Showcasing nearly five hundred late-sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century jewels and gemstones, this marks the first time in more than one hundred years the extraordinary cache has been displayed in its entirety. Mystery still surrounds the find: who owned the Hoard, when and why was it hidden, and why was it never reclaimed? The exhibit continues until 27 April.

Three of the approximately five hundred jewels and gemstones at the Museum of London's Cheapside Hoard display, the world's largest and finest collection of Elizabethan and Early Stuart jewelry. Top: This salamandar brooch is set in gold with cabochon emeralds from Colombia and table-cut diamonds from India. Above left: A gold and enamel pendant with ten briolette amethysts catches the light in its display case. Above right: A jeweled cross set with iolites and an irregularly polished spinel hangs, pendant style, as it would have been worn.

Three of the approximately five hundred jewels and gemstones at the Museum of London's Cheapside Hoard display, the world's largest and finest collection of Elizabethan and Early Stuart jewelry. Top: This salamandar brooch is set in gold with cabochon emeralds from Colombia and table-cut diamonds from India. Above left: A gold and enamel pendant with ten briolette amethysts catches the light in its display case. Above right: A jeweled cross set with iolites and an irregularly polished spinel hangs, pendant style, as it would have been worn.

Another popular display now in London is Beyond El Dorado: Power and Gold in Ancient Columbia, which is at the British Museum through 23 March. Featured are more than two hundred gold objects from Museo del Oro, in Bogota, and approximately one hundred items from the British Museum's collection. Together they show technologically advanced and sophisticated gold-working techniques, including the use of textiles, feathers, stones, and ceramics.

Two of some three hundred gold objects at the British Museum's El Dorado display, featuring the craftsmanship of societies in ancient Colombia. Top: Anthropomorphic bat pectoral, Tairona, gold alloy, AD 900-1600, 9.5 × 11.9 cm. Above: Necklace with claw-shaped beads, Zenu, gold alloy 200 BC-AD 1000, 58 cm in diameter.

Two of some three hundred gold objects at the British Museum's El Dorado display, featuring the craftsmanship of societies in ancient Colombia. Top: Anthropomorphic bat pectoral, Tairona, gold alloy, AD 900-1600, 9.5 × 11.9 cm. Above: Necklace with claw-shaped beads, Zenu, gold alloy 200 BC-AD 1000, 58 cm in diameter.

NAME YOUR POISON

Currently at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City, is an exhibition called The Power of Poison, which opened in mid-November and continues through 10 August. For centuries, people worldwide have sought charmed objects to keep them safe. Many legends describe objects that allegedly served as poison detectors, protectors, purifiers, or antidotes. Among others, these include such items as fossilized shark teeth, thought to be dragon tongues that could purify food or deadly compounds; fossilized crinoids, believed to be antidotes to common poisons; amethyst, thought to reduce the intoxicating effects of alcohol; jade, believed to purify wine; emeralds, said to protect against snake venom; and agate eyes, ground up and drunk in wine, imagined to cure poisoning. Besides the display of such items, the exhibition includes life-sized dioramas, an interactive section where eyewitness accounts and clues can be used to solve poisoning mysteries, and a theater where live presenters share dramatic stories of poisonings and forensic detection.

On display in the Power of Poisons exhibit are this amethyst necklace (above) and jade goblet (right). The ancient Greeks thought amethyst could reduce the intoxicating effects of alcohol. At one time jade was believed to purify wine and remove any poisonous elements.

On display in the Power of Poisons exhibit are this amethyst necklace (above) and jade goblet (right). The ancient Greeks thought amethyst could reduce the intoxicating effects of alcohol. At one time jade was believed to purify wine and remove any poisonous elements.

JEWELRY AT THE LIZZADRO

The Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art, in Elmhurst, Illinois, has a special exhibition of modern designer jewelry temporarily on loan, until 20 April, from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Featured in the display are eleven award-winning pieces depicting jewelry designs from the 1960s to 2010 that are part of the National Gem Collection.

Two pieces of jewelry now on display at the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art. Above left: A diamond tiara bracelet by Cynthia Bach (1989). Lower left: An emerald necklace by Julius Cohen (1965).

Two pieces of jewelry now on display at the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art. Above left: A diamond tiara bracelet by Cynthia Bach (1989). Lower left: An emerald necklace by Julius Cohen (1965).

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