Carnegie Museum of Natural History Reopens the World-Renowned Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems June 9, 2007
Pittsburgh … Prepare to be dazzled when Carnegie Museum of Natural History reopens Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems for public viewing on June 9. Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems has undergone an ambitious renovation project including new display cases, new lights, new specimens and even a dramatic entranceway that will display a breathtaking selection of minerals.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Pittsburgh … Prepare to be dazzled when Carnegie Museum of Natural History reopens Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems for public viewing on June 9.
Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems has undergone an ambitious renovation project including new display cases, new lights, new specimens and even a dramatic entranceway that will display a breathtaking selection of minerals.
“The new entrance to Hillman Hall will give visitors a sense of what they will encounter once they are inside the hall,” said Marc Wilson, Section Head of Minerals.
Opening day activities on June 9 include a children’s scavenger hunt where children can find several different stations throughout the museum and collect assorted minerals.
Hillman Hall was temporarily closed in early 2006, and the majority of the collection was taken off of public view. During that time, the entire hall underwent a major facelift that included obtaining new display cases as well as new lighting.
“Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems has always been one of the museum’s most popular and important halls. It will be very exciting to see the specimens in a new light,” said Dave Smith, interim co-director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History. “I believe visitors who have loved Hillman Hall for years will be pleasantly surprised by what they encounter once it reopens."
While Hillman Hall was closed, the museum acquired numerous minerals and gems that will be on display in the renovated hall. Such minerals include pieces from the Academy of Natural Sciences Philadelphia Collection. The acquisition of minerals from this historical collection, coupled with the museum’s own collection, make the museum home to the world’s most important collection of Pennsylvania minerals.
The dazzling new minerals from this collection that will go on display in Hillman Hall include a 14-inch-long amethyst crystal that grew on smoky quartz and an 8-inch-tall obsidian-colored smoky quartz crystal. Both of these minerals were found in the same quarry in Delaware County and will be on display in the Masterpiece Gallery. Other notable pieces from the Philadelphia Academy Collection include an unusual 17-inch-wide Goethite. This large geode reveals an interior of steel-gray bubbles.
Other new minerals that will go on display in Hillman Hall include a massive mint green calcite specimen that was once displayed during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
The collection has also acquired several new minerals from India including a fluorapophyllite with sparkly, gem-like green crystals jutting out from a base of snow white crystals; an eye-popping cavansite featuring electric blue snowball–like group of crystals sitting against cream-colored base; and a scolecite with clusters of long, elegant white crystals jutting out in every direction.
Part of the renovation project of Hillman Hall includes the creation of the Wertz Gallery of Gems and Jewelry which will focus on gems, the crystals they come from and jewelry comprised of precious stones. Wertz Gallery, named in honor of Ronald W. Wertz, longtime president of the Hillman Foundation, will open in September.
Originally opened in 1980, the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems is considered one of the top mineral and gem exhibits in the country. The entire hall is divided into eight sections including:
• Lithology and Processes. Introduction into the processes of how rocks and minerals are made. • Crystallography. The study of mineral crystals. • Mineral Properties. Examples of the physical properties which aid in the identification of minerals. • Fluorescence and Phosphorescence. Display of minerals that display luminosity, the ability to produce visible light. • Locality Suites. Display of minerals that have shaped the world, from the American Gold Rush to the tin deposits that spurred the Roman conquest of the British Isles. • Pennsylvania Minerals & Gems. Featuring the minerals that have fueled the growth of the state’s industries as well as some of the finest specimens ever found. • Systematic Collection. More than 400 beautiful specimens divided into their chemical classification. • Masterpiece Gallery. A presentation of stunning and unique mineral specimens as natural works of art.
Hillman Hall features several spectacular pieces such as the yellowish-gold pseudomorph of hemimorphite after calcite extracted from a mine pocket in Joplin, Missouri, in 1895 and presented as a gift to Andrew Carnegie two years later. This is one of about six known pieces currently found in the world and is the finest example of such a specimen. It remains perhaps the most significant specimen in the collection.
Other fascinating pieces in the collection include the breathtaking “City in the Clouds,” a cluster of gemmy tourmaline crystals of watermelon-colored spikes protruding like skyscrapers and the 2,200-pound glacial nugget of native “float” copper discovered south of Houghton, Michigan. Called “float” copper due to its occurrence in glacial gravels once known as “glacial floats,” this rare form of native copper is even more unusual because of its immense size.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, can be enjoyed Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sundays 12 p.m.–5 p.m., and Mondays 10 a.m.–5 p.m. after July 4th through the week before Labor Day. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for senior citizens, $6 for children ages 3–18 and full-time students with ID, and free for members and children under 3. Convenient parking is available at the museum’s six-level parking facility, located directly behind the museum. The museum can be accessed from the intersection of Forbes Avenue and South Craig Street. For more information, please call ( 412 ) 622-3131 or visit www.carnegiemnh.org.
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