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March-April 2017

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Museum Notes

WINNING CASES

Taking first-place honors at the 2016 Denver Gem and Mineral Show, this past September, were two museums. The Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., won the Donna Chirnside Memorial Award for best educational display by a museum with its exhibit of African minerals, and Montana Tech Mineral Museum, in Butte, received the Friends of Mineralogy Award for best educational exhibit by an institution with its display documenting Montana sapphire deposits.

The award-winning Smithsonian Institution's display of African minerals at the 2016 Denver Gem and Mineral Show.

The award-winning Smithsonian Institution's display of African minerals at the 2016 Denver Gem and Mineral Show.

The award-winning Montana Tech Mineral Museum's display featuring Montana's sapphire deposits at the 2016 Denver Gem and Mineral Show.

The award-winning Montana Tech Mineral Museum's display featuring Montana's sapphire deposits at the 2016 Denver Gem and Mineral Show.

UPCOMING SYMPOSIA

On Saturday, 11 March, the Midwest Chapter of Friends of Mineralogy will host its Fifth Annual Mineralogical Symposium, sponsored by the Karl E. Limper Geology Museum at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Theme for the event is Sphalerite and Wurtzite: The ZnS Polymorphs. For further information, see website http://www.friendsofmineralogy.org/symposia.html or contact John Rakovan, rakovajf@miamioh.edu.

On 21–24 July, the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum (in Golden), Friends of the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, and Denver Region Exploration Geologists Society will sponsor a symposium to be held at the Mines Geology Museum. The focus is on the geology, mining history, mineralogy, and mineral collecting related to gold and silver deposits in the northern half of the Colorado Mineral Belt. Presentations will also look at some of the well-known historic mining districts including Boulder County, Central City, Idaho Springs, Georgetown, Breckenridge, Leadville, South Park, and Cripple Creek. Two days of presentations and two days of field trips are being offered. For more information contact Mike Smith, m_l_smith@earthlink.net, or see the Facebook page of Friends of the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum.

NEW EXHIBITION

On 30 September, the California Academy of Sciences, in San Francisco, opened its newest mineral exhibition, Gems and Minerals Unearthed. Located in a 900-square-foot gallery on the third floor of the academy's iconic building in Golden Gate Park, the non-traditional display includes not only basic information about minerals and their properties, but also offers the public a look at how rocks and minerals are important in our daily lives. Using artifacts and modern objects, minerals in their natural forms are paired with products from thousands of years ago right up to modern times. It is hoped that this unusual approach will help people understand the importance of minerals and other geologic materials and will encourage them to reuse and recycle these finite resources. From silver and copper to amethyst and azurite, they are as essential as they are brilliant and beautiful.

Entering the exhibit, visitors pass under a large folded sheet of copper from Michigan's White Pine mine. There are other oversized specimens, some of which are touchable. Three interactive wall cases demonstrate optical properties, and another display relates the natural interactions of minerals and organisms. In all, nearly four hundred specimens from the academy's renowned collection are showcased in a dazzling array of colors and lusters.

The academy has not displayed its gem and mineral collection since moving in 2003 to a new location in Golden Gate Park after its former building was damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake.

A glimpse of some of the specimens on display at the California Academy of Sciences.

A glimpse of some of the specimens on display at the California Academy of Sciences.

SURPRISE ENDOWMENT

The Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, in Golden, was the surprised recipient of $1.75 million worth of minerals, gems, and meteorites from a woman with seemingly no connection to the school. In addition, she left cash donations of $200,000 to the museum and $200,000 to the Colorado School of Mines general scholarship fund.

Hilja Herfurth passed away in June 2016, preceded by her husband, Gerry, in 1999. He had been an avid collector of rare minerals and meteorites. The couple lived in Denver and had an admiration for the reputation of the museum's exhibits and educational outreach. It took two large vans to transport 150 boxes containing roughly eight hundred pieces from all over the world to the museum. Hilja had previously given smaller gifts of specimens to the museum valued at nearly $400,000. Visitors can see a sampling of the Herfurth specimens on display in the museum, with more to be displayed in the future.

A sampling of the Herfurth specimens on display at the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum. Note the photograph of the Herfurths against the back of the case.

A sampling of the Herfurth specimens on display at the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum. Note the photograph of the Herfurths against the back of the case.

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