The American Museum of Natural History announced on Monday that it is renovating one of its most popular exhibits, the gems and minerals galleries. The space, which is officially called the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems and Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals, first debuted in 1976. On Monday, the museum announced that the galleries’ 41-year run will soon come to an end, giving way to a state-of-the-art space.
In a move that ought to soften the blow for AMNH aficionados who have found themselves captivated by the plush carpet and the rooms’ majestic glow over the years, the museum padded the announcement with the unveiling of a 12-foot amethyst geode. Weighing more than 9,000 pounds, the deep-purple geode was recently collected from a mine in Uruguay and is one of the largest in the world. It will be on temporary display in the museum's Grand Gallery through the 2017 holiday season and will be central to the layout of the revamped galleries.
The new area, called the Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, will feel more like a stereotypical museum gallery than the current iteration, which looks more like a maniacal billionaire's personal collection. Rest assured that the rehabbed space will have all of the features that visitors to AMNH have come to know and love, including a fluorescence gallery, the Star of India sapphire and the 632-carat Patricia Emerald.
The renovation is a part of a larger initiative to revamp the museum in advance of its 150th anniversary in 2019. In September, officials announced an ambitious project to revamp its Northwest Coast Hall. The museum is also hoping to begin construction on a new $340 million learning center later this year, which would open in 2020 if it gets approved.
The gems and minerals galleries will close on October 26, and Mignone will make its debut in 2019. There's not much time to relish in the tacky, 1970s-designed glory of the old room, which ought to make a visit over the next week all the more special.