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September-October 2015

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Museum Notes


The official ribbon-cutting for the new museum at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, in Socorro, may have been back in May of this year, but the grand opening celebration will be held on Friday, 13 November, kicking off the Thirty-sixth Annual New Mexico Mineral Symposium. Fender Minerals is sponsoring the party, which in addition to appetizers, soft drinks, and a cash bar, will include the unveiling of a new mineral case featuring two newly mined and very significant New Mexico mineral specimens.

The new museum at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro.

The symposium itself is 14–15 November and is loaded with well-known names: Robert “Bob” Cook as the keynote speaker as well as Ray DeMark, Joe Dorris, Terry Huizing, Peter Megaw, Wolfgang Mueller, Tony Potacek, Les Presmyk, John Rakovan, Tom Rosemeyer, Rob Sanders, and Bob Walstrom, among others. A banquet, auction, and informal Friday-night satellite show (after the museum's grand opening) round out the weekend.


This issue tells the story behind the alliance that saw the University of Michigan mineral collection finding a new home at the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum, in Houghton (pages 450–453). In addition, Paul and Janet Clifford, of Cleveland, Ohio, also donated their mineral collection of approximately four thousand specimens to the museum. It is being given in installments, the first of which has already been received. Paul is the former curator of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History's gem and mineral collection and was assisted by Janet. Both have degrees in geology. A small fraction of their collection is on display in the Mineral Treasures Gallery of the Seaman Museum.

Two specimens from a special display from the Clifford collection at the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum. Quartz, 9.5 cm, from Dalnegorsk, Russia.

Calcite, 13 cm, from Lak-Ketkipada, Mumbai, India.


The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum (MMGM), in Bethel, actively participated in the third annual New England Mineral Conference (NEMC), held at the Grand Summit Resort Hotel and Conference Center in Newry, Maine, 8–10 May. On Friday, for the second year, some four hundred students from regional schools took part in Education Day at NEMC, which included hands-on geology-based activities and a poster session.

A tour of the museum on Friday afternoon was attended by more than sixty people from the NEMC, many of whom were first-time visitors. They viewed a video, footage of which highlighted behind the scenes of building the museum and promoted the museum's oral history project, showing how interviews with the Maine mining community will be used to enhance future exhibits.

Visitors were also able to tour the research lab, now housing the MP2 research group. Friday evening William B. Simmons, professor emeritus and MMGM director of research, described MP2 and its recent move from the University of New Orleans to the museum. In addition, visitors viewed an exhibit of meteorites, developed by MMGM Director Barbra Barrett, and another exhibit, developed by Myles Felch, of minerals from the Tamminen quarry in Greenwood, Maine. The latter complemented Jim Nizamoff's MP2 talk on Saturday.


The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, in Hillsboro, Oregon, received the distinction of being named as an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution this past April. As such, not only will the Rice Museum be able to borrow objects and exhibits from the Smithsonian's collections, but the museum will also gain opportunities to collaborate on research projects and to sponsor exciting programs from renowned visiting scholars.

Established in 1996, Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program that develops long-term collaborative partnerships with museums and other educational and cultural organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources and to increase discovery and inspire lifelong learning across the United States.


The Delaware Museum of Natural History, in Wilmington, selected three mineral cases from the Delaware Gem and Mineral Show in early March as temporary exhibits: Field Collecting at Mineral Hill by Tom Pankratz, Ken Casey, and Jim DeBastiani; A Selection of English Minerals by William Severance; and Rock Rhapsody of Blues—Why Minerals Have Color by Wayne Urion. They remained on display through August. What a great way for museums to get ready-made exhibits of their choosing!

Two specimens from the Severance exhibit of English minerals, at the Delaware Museum of Natural History earlier this year. Both have impressive histories. Siderite and quartz, 7.8 cm across, from the Virtuous Lady mine, Tavistock, Devon, England.

A 6.2-cm calcite from the Biggrigg mine, Bigrigg, Cumbria, England.

In other news at the museum, Delaware Rocks! opened on 11 May. The museum's newest outdoor display, it features fourteen donated boulders—all from Delaware and each unique—within a 1,500-square-foot area planted with a variety of perennial groundcovers, grasses, ferns, and flowers. The display teaches broadly about geology, as well as specifically about Delaware and its place in geologic history.

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