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November-December 2014

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Museum Notes


Marjorie Merriweather Post's entire private collection of Cartier jewelry is on display through 31 December at her former Washington, D.C., estate, Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens. Post (1887–1973), heiress of the Postum Cereal Company, was considered to be the wealthiest woman in the world, and with her fortune she amassed one of the most important private collections of Cartier jewelry. Although individual pieces have been shown at various times, this is the first time the entire collection has been given its own dedicated exhibition.

Two of the Marjorie Merriweather Post exhibition pieces by Cartier on loan from the Smithsonian Institution:

An Art Deco Indian-style diamond, platinum, and emerald necklace and shoulder brooch.

The 21.04-carat Maximilian emerald once set in a ring worn by Mexico's Emperor Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph.


The Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., is working on a new exhibit that will be the centerpiece of its new fossil hall. It's a massive Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, formerly on display in Montana and newly arrived at the museum. The dinosaur skeleton was found in 1988 by a Montana rancher on federal land and was excavated in 1989–90 by a team led by paleontologist Jack Horner. It is one of the most complete T. rex specimens ever discovered, with 80–85 percent of the skeleton recovered.

A close-up of the skull of the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, formerly at the Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University and now at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.

The Smithsonian's current fossil hall has been closed for renovations since 28 April, but the public can see dinosaurs and fossils in three new interim exhibitions. A cast of the skull of this new T. rex is part of one such exhibit; it can be found in the 1,830-square-foot Rex Room, which also offers visitors the unique opportunity to see staff members unpack, catalogue, photograph, and 3-D scan the 66-million-year-old bones of the T. rex.

The renovated 31,000-square-foot hall will open in 2019 and will be named in recognition of David H. Koch, executive vice president of Koch Industries, who gave $35 million of the exhibition's total projected cost of $48 million.


A special exhibition, Sculpted by Nature: Silver and Copper from the Peter H. Farquhar Collection, is currently at the University of Delaware Mineralogical Museum in Newark, Delaware. It runs through 7 December 2014 and from February through June 2015. The eighteen featured specimens, miniatures to mostly small cabinet-sized, are on loan from Farquhar, a professor, management consultant, and collector who lives in California. This marks the first time he has displayed his specimens publicly.

Copper, 1.5 × 3.75 × 0.5 inches, from the Ray mine, Pinal County, Arizona.

Silver, 2.75 × 2.75 × 1.5 inches, from the Kongens mine, Kongsberg, Norway.

Ever since the museum was renovated and reopened in 2009, it has featured a “visiting collection,” which fills one large case out of seventeen. Included thus far have been specimens from the collection of David Byers, tourmalines from the George Elling collection, Herb and Monika Obodda's Gerd Dreher carvings, rhodochrosites from the Dave Bunk collection, recent gifts to the museum, and now fine silvers and coppers from Farquhar. For further details on the museum and the display, see

Two of the specimens currently on display at the University of Delaware:


On display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is the Blue Moon Diamond, which was discovered in January 2014 at the Cullinan (Premier) mine in South Africa. The intense blue rough weighed 29.6 carats and immediately received worldwide attention. It was purchased in March by Cora International for $25.6 million and, after being cut, was loaned to the California museum for an exhibition that opened to the public in mid-September and continues until 6 January.

The rough 29.6-carat Blue Moon Diamond; now cut, it is on temporary display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.


Dr. Stuart Mills, a consulting editor of Rocks & Minerals, has been appointed to the ongoing position of senior curator in geosciences at Museum Victoria, in Melbourne, Australia. Mills started as a volunteer in the mineralogy department in 2001 while still an undergraduate in geology and has since progressed through a PhD and a postdoctoral stint at the University of British Columbia in Canada before returning to Melbourne in 2009. Mills is directing his expertise in crystallography into a celebratory program marking the International Year of Crystallography. He is also chairing the local organizing committee for the 2018 International Mineralogical Association meeting to be held in Melbourne, as well as developing the museum's mineral collections. Mills replaces Dr. Bill Birch, who retired as senior curator at the end of 2013 after forty years in the position but continues working part-time as a research associate.

Dr. Stuart Mills (right), now senior curator at Museum Victoria, replacing now-retired Dr. Bill Birch (left).


Earlier this year, the Colburn Earth Science Museum, in Asheville, North Carolina, received the donation of a faceted 27-carat heliodor (yellow beryl) gemstone from Tajikistan from David and Marian Brackna of Frederick, Maryland. The gemstone was faceted by Mr. Brackna, winner of multiple American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) Cutting Edge Awards.

The 2.7-carat heliodor donated to the Colburn Earth Science Museum.

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