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September-October 2014

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Museum Notes

SMMP MEETINGS

Two meetings of the Society of Mineral Museum Professionals (SMMP) are scheduled for this fall, one at the Denver Show on 13 September and the other at the Munich Show at the end of October. See www.smmp.net for details.

COLLECTION ACQUISITION

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, in Pittsburgh, has acquired more than 2,700 mineral specimens from private collector Bryon Brookmyer, making the museum's collection the premier repository of Pennsylvania minerals in the world. Over 230 of these have been on long-term loan as the focus of the Pennsylvania exhibit in the museum's Hillman Hall.

Brookmyer's collection is the latest in three noteworthy specimen acquisitions that comprise the vast Pennsylvania collection, spanning pieces that were collected from colonial times to the present. Early in the museum's history, Andrew Carnegie purchased for Pittsburgh the William Jefferis collection of about 12,000 specimens. In 2007 the museum acquired approximately 5,000 mineral specimens deaccessioned by the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Together, these two collections held specimens that covered up to the 1920s; the Brookmyer collection brings the museum's holdings up to the present time. The Hillman Foundation underwrote acquisition of both the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Brookmyer collections.

Fluorapatite, 7 cm wide, from the Keystone quarry, Cornog, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Magnetite, 5 cm tall, from the Grace mine, Morgantown, Berks County, Pennsylvania.

APPOINTMENTS

In May, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), in Toronto, announced the appointment of Dr. Kim Tait as the inaugural Teck Chair in Mineralogy. Tait, a ROM curator of natural history and an associate professor of geology at the University of Toronto, joined the museum in 2007. Tait's new role calls for her to lead scholarly research, publications, and strategic acquisitions. She will contribute to ROM's earth and space themes by developing permanent galleries, major exhibitions, and public programming and education.

Kim Tait, newly named Teck Chair in Mineralogy at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Another announcement brought news that Julian C. Gray, curator at the Tellus Museum of Science, in Cartersville, Georgia, since its opening in 2009, was named the new executive director of the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, in Hillsboro, Oregon. He assumed the position this past May.

Julian C. Gray, now executive director at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, shown with the museum's famed Alma Rose rhodochrosite from the Sweet Home mine, Alma, Colorado.

Soon after Gray's arrival at the Rice Museum, Leslie Moclock was selected as the museum's curator. She recently graduated from the University of California–Davis with a master's degree in geology.

Leslie Moclock, now curator at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals.

MASTERPIECES

Now through 5 October the Houston Museum of Natural Science is showcasing Bulgari: 130 Years of Masterpieces, which presents 150 sizable pieces of jewelry from Bulgari's Heritage Collection, including masterpieces on loan from the historical archives of the company headquarters in Rome and on loan from private collections. Represented are pieces inspired by Greco-Roman classicism, the Italian Renaissance, and the nineteenth-century Roman school of goldsmiths; they are accompanied by sketches and other archival material. Included in Bulgari's innovations in jewelry design are several pieces from the Elizabeth Taylor collection.

Two exquisite examples of Bulgari's jewelry on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

A necklace in platinum and diamonds, ca. 1938. The sides of this necklace can be separated into two bracelets, two elongated plaque dress clips, and two small ones; or the central pendant can be worn on a bangle as its centerpiece, and the back clip can be worn as a brooch.

A long necklace in gold with emeralds, rubies, and diamonds, ca. 1970. The central emerald cabochon is 300.93 carats.

ICONIC PHOTOS

The museum at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), in Carlsbad, California, currently has an exhibition that captures the intrinsic beauty and rarity of gems and brings to life the jewelry, gems, minerals, and sculptures featured in GIA's quarterly periodical, Gems & Gemology (G&G). Called The Beauty of Science: Gems & Gemology Celebrates 80 Years, Featuring the Artistry of Harold & Erica Van Pelt, the special display offers visitors a unique opportunity to see stunning pieces of historic and gemological significance side-by-side with their iconic photos.

Harold and Erica Van Pelt, pioneers of gem photography, played a major role in the evolution of G&G with their magnificent photos that complemented publication of the journal's groundbreaking research. From 1981 to 2009 the Van Pelts' exquisite photos graced the covers of ninety-three issues of G&G as well as many inside pages. The exhibition runs through December 2014 and features fifteen cases and more than twenty of the photographed pieces, which are on loan from various organizations and individuals, including the Smithsonian Institution, the Van Pelts, The Collector, and Pala International, among others.

Now on display at the GIA Museum is this Harold and Erica Van Pelt photo of the Maharaja of Indore necklace, featuring fifteen fine Colombian emeralds that were recovered during the Spanish conquest of the New World and 374 diamonds cut in India in the seventeenth century. The photo appeared in the summer 1981 issue of Gems & Gemology. The necklace was bequeathed to the Smithsonian by Cora Hubbard Williams. It is exhibited, courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution National Gem Collection, alongside the photo.


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