The American Museum of Natural History is reopening The Allison Mignone Hall of Gems and Minerals this fall. The exhibit, which had been part of the museum since the 1970s, has been closed since 2017 for renovations. The new exhibit will feature a 12-foot tall, 9,000-pound amethyst geode.
The reopening coincides to the museum's 150th anniversary and will feature high tech interfaces at different displays.
According to a press release, the redesigned exhibit will tell the story of “how the vast diversity of mineral types arose on Earth … and how humans have used them throughout the millennia for personal adornment, tools, and technology.”
“Whether you’re talking about the spectacular 563-carat Star of India sapphire or the unique almandine ‘subway garnet’ unearthed in New York City in 1885, the American Museum of Natural History is known for having one of the most spectacular and comprehensive collections of gems and minerals in the world,” said Ellen V. Futter, Museum President. “Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Allison and Roberto Mignone, we will now highlight these specimens in new exhibits illuminating the latest scientific thinking and revealing the spectacular beauty of objects from cultures across the globe.”
George E. Harlow, curator in the Museum’s Division of Physical Sciences, is curating the Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals. “Forty-plus years ago, when the current galleries were designed, scientists had not yet begun to explore the concept of mineral evolution,” said Harlow. “Today, we work within a different framework, where much of the diversity of minerals on our dynamic planet is directly connected to the evolution of life. Our new exhibits will allow us to tell how the story of minerals is linked with their natural environment and biology on the one hand and with culture and technology on the other.”
From the museum's website:
Elements currently planned for the Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals include:
A “Crystal Garden” main exhibition area with signature large-scale specimens collected from around the world, including two towering amethyst geodes from Uruguay, a 12-foot-tall geode and a 9-foot-tall geode. Mineral formation zones highlighting a variety of processes and environments that shape mineral formation will frame these iconic specimens
A gem gallery with a case containing the Museum’s most precious gems, including the Star of India (the world’s largest and most famous blue star sapphire) and the 632-carat Patricia Emerald (a rare example of a large, gem-quality emerald to be preserved uncut)
A systematics display wall showing the classification of minerals and highlighting the breadth of the Museum’s collection
A case dedicated to the minerals of New York City, including the “subway garnet”—a 9-pound almandine garnet unearthed during a sewer dig on 35th Street in 1885
Large-scale media projections and interactive displays with time-lapse imagery, colorful animations, and dramatic shifts in scale to introduce key ideas about mineral and gem properties
A dedicated space for temporary exhibitions with the potential to highlight humanity’s fascination with particular minerals and gems as well as the fact that the same atmospheric conditions made possible both the diversity of minerals and the diversity of life
A fluorescence and phosphorescence gallery featuring a massive panel of fluorescent rock from the Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg, New Jersey, that glows in shades of orange and green under ultraviolet light