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May-June 2014

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Museum Notes

Rocks & Minerals welcomes museum news items and photographs for this column.

FIRST BIRTHDAY

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science, in Dallas, Texas, marked its first birthday in December of last year with vertical dancing by a dance troupe on the concrete walls of the museum, birthday cake, fireworks, a jazz ensemble, and even a hip-hip-hooray led by Ross Perot, after whom the facility was named. The inaugural year's numbers were indeed worth celebrating: 1.4 million visitors, 1,286 volunteers who gave almost 50,000 hours of service, and 47,000-plus museum members.

Joining the festivities in celebration of the Perot Museum's first year were several Dallas dignitaries, including Ross Perot, shown here behind the podium.

MOON ROCK AT TELLUS

Tellus Science Museum, in Cartersville, Georgia, opened 2014 with a fabulous new addition: a permanent Moon rock exhibit. The rock is a 3.3-billion-year-old lunar olivine basalt. Even though the sample is displayed in a high-security case, it is exhibited in a way that allows visitors to get close to it. Olivine, pyroxene, and plagioclase can be seen clearly as well as igneous features such as vesicles. The 4-ounce specimen was provided to Tellus by NASA and is a piece of an original rock sample that weighed 21 pounds. It was the largest rock collected during the Apollo 15 mission in August 1971 and came to be known as “Great Scott” in honor of astronaut Dave Scott who collected it.

The Moon rock is part of an exhibit that incorporates artifacts from the Apollo Space Program. These include a rocket engine from the ascent stage of a lunar module, a rock hammer, and a lunar sample return container. The National Air and Space Museum loaned these items to Tellus through the Smithsonian Affiliate Program. The entire exhibit relates the story of getting to the Moon, working on the Moon, and the geology of the Moon.

Two views of the 4-ounce Moon rock now on display at the Tellus Science Museum.

ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM

The thirty-sixth annual New Mexico Mineral Symposium is scheduled for the weekend of 8–9 November of this year at the Macy Center on the campus of New Mexico Tech in Socorro. A day and a half of presentations will be held along with a banquet and a silent auction. An informal “tailgating” session on the Friday before the symposium is traditionally centered at the local Comfort Inn. Field excursions by participants are often held before and after the event. Attendees also enjoy the opportunity to visit the Mineral Museum on campus. For details on the symposium, see http://geoinfo.nmt.edu/museum/minsymp.

As noted and pictured in the January/February Museum Notes column, a new museum is currently under construction at the university. The museum has been the recipient of a number of donations during the past year, highlighted by a suite of Carlsbad, New Mexico, salt specimens from Philip Simmons that includes sylvite with blue halite, aphthitalite, carnallite, and langbeinite crystals. The most spectacular specimen is a 12-inch-on-edge blue halite crystal called the “Ice Block.” The museum also acquired the Sigurd Rudorf collection from Big Cedar Lake, Wisconsin. This eclectic collection contained specimens from England, Upper Michigan, and other classic U.S. localities as well as an assortment of fossils from the upper Midwest including Mazon Creek, Illinois.

COLOR SPONSORS for the Museum Notes column for 2013 and 2014 are John and Maryanne Fender of Fender Minerals, Richardson, Texas.

TOURMALINE ACQUISITION

The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum (MMGM) recently purchased a gem tourmaline suite from Mount Marie in Paris, Maine, that had been owned by local miner Dennis Durgin. Mount Marie produces some of North America's finest gem tourmaline in a wide range of colors. Forty-two faceted stones and several crystals comprised the acquisition, with the flawless gems ranging up to 69 carats. A representation of the suite was displayed at this year's Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.

The MMGM, now under construction in the quaint village of Bethel, Maine, will tell the story of Maine's mining and mineral history. Through expansive collections and archived historical materials, the museum will tell visitors about the region's significant mineralogical history. From the first tourmaline discovery at Mount Mica in the 1820s and more than a century of industrial feldspar mining, to exciting discoveries today, visitors will gain an understanding of how these minerals were discovered and why they are important. For more information about MMGM, see www.mainemineralmuseum.org.

Color suite representative of a collection of newly mined elbaite (tourmaline) gems and crystals from Mount Marie, Paris, Maine, recently acquired by the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum.

GLITTERING BUTTERFLY

The Aurora Butterfly of Peace, pictured in the January/February Diamond Issue of Rocks & Minerals (p. 72) and also here, is on display in the Gem Vault of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County until 3 June. The rainbow colors of 240 natural fancy-colored diamonds artistically represent the figure of a butterfly. Alan Bronstein, the owner and curator, spent twelve years assembling this spectacular collection one stone at a time, in partnership with Harry Rodman. The butterfly's many different colors include purples from Russia, blues and oranges from South Africa, lime-greens from Brazil, and violets and dozens of pinks from the Argyle mine in Australia.

The Aurora Butterfly of Peace, made up of 240 colored diamonds, now at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

NEW YORK SPECIMENS DONATED

Five exceptional New York State specimens of display quality and worthy of preservation were recently donated by St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, to the New York State Museum in Albany. Four of the specimens—two sphalerites from the No. 2 mine at Balmat, and two crystallized graphites from Ticonderoga—were from the collection of C. MacDonald Grout of Lake Placid, New York, who had worked for many years in the mines near Balmat. The fifth specimen was a large single crystal of microcline, variety amazonite, from the old Kensico Dam quarry at Valhalla and was from the collection of Howard E. Moore of New Jersey.

One of several recent acquisitions at the New York State Museum: A 6-cm crystal of microcline, variety amazonite, from the old Kensico Dam quarry near Valhalla, West Chester County, New York.

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