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May-June 2018

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Museum Notes


The New Mexico Tech Mineral Museum, in Socorro, has a shiny and colorful new exhibit, but it's an outdoor, not indoor, display; and it's not in a glass case but invites touching, even climbing. In fact, visitors are encouraged to pet the specimens. Called the “Pet”rified Forest, it consists of fifteen large pieces of Arizona petrified logs, polished to a high sheen and attractively positioned by forklifts in the “front yard” of the museum building, near a cascading waterfall and stream.

A portion of the new "Pet"rified Forest at the New Mexico Tech Mineral Museum.


In celebration of the Field Museum's 125th anniversary this year, the Chicago museum is revamping its iconic Stanley Field Hall with the installation of the largest dinosaur ever discovered, a titanosaur called Patagotitan mayorum. This gigantic touchable replica—a cast from fossil bones of a specimen excavated in Argentina—will stretch 122 feet from head to tail. SUE, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered, will also undergo a makeover, receiving scientific updates and moving into her own custom-designed gallery in The Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet.


The Rice Museum of Rocks and Minerals, in Hillsboro, Oregon, recently received a valuable addition to its collection, the donation of twenty-nine exceptional zeolite specimens from the Pacific Northwest. They were part of the estate of Mike Groben of Coos Bay, Oregon, and were hand-selected by Groben for the museum with input from museum cofounder Sharleen Harvey. The meticulously documented specimens were either personally collected or acquired through purchase or trade with notable collectors between 1954 and 1980.

Two specimens from the Mike Groben collection donated to the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals.

Stilbite, 11.5 x 8.5 cm, from Fall Creek, Lane County, Oregon.

Laumonite, 5 x 2 cm, from the Bear Creek quarry, near Drain, Oregon.


Although temperatures are balmy now, it was a different story this past January when damage caused by fierce winter weather hammering the Southeast forced the temporary closing of Clemson University's Bob Campbell Geology Museum in Clemson, South Carolina. The museum was flooded when frigid temperatures caused an air compressor to malfunction and a pipe to burst in the ceiling above several exhibits. A full-sized casting of a Dimetrodon, flying reptiles exhibit, and several fossils were crushed when the ceiling fell. Custom-designed oak display cabinetry was also damaged. The museum is dedicated to geology and paleontology and is visited by some twenty-five thousand people annually; it relies largely on donations for its revenue.


Last year Michigan Tech alumnus Jeff Nuttal and his wife, Louise, of Texas, donated an outstanding copper crystal to the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum, in Houghton, Michigan. Although the museum has the finest cumulative collection of crystallized copper specimens in the world, this specimen is more than twice the size of the next-best crystal of the same form in the collection. Museum staff count it among the finest copper crystals in the museum's extensive holdings.

The 19.5-cm tall copper (predominately tetrahexahedron) crystal, a recent donation to the A. E. Seamen Museum.


After serving for ten years as director of the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) Geology Museum, in Golden, Dr. Bruce Geller is moving on to new ventures. Among his many accomplishments during his tenure in that position he organized and hosted the Annual Open House attended in September by several hundred guests; organized the Friends of the CSM Geology Museum; prepared award-winning displays for both the Denver and Tucson shows; received the Golden Living Landmark Award (2014); hosted numerous local, regional, and international gatherings (even two weddings in the museum!); and pursued and processed thousands of donations.

Dr. Bruce Geller, former director of the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum.

COLOR SPONSOR for the Museum Notes column for 2018 is Laura Delano of LLD Productions, Inc.


Rocks & Minerals welcomes museum news items and photographs for this column. Correspondence should be sent to Marie Huizing, 5341 Thrasher Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45247;


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