The American Museum of Natural History's incredible collection of dazzling gems, the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, is finally opening to the public after the pandemic postponed it by over a year.
The wait will be worth it, when on June 12, its doors will welcome us into the 11,000-square-foot space displaying 5,000 gems and minerals from 95 countries.
That's a lot. But according to AMNH, it's just a small fraction of how many minerals there are in nature.
"When I started at the museum, there were probably 4,500 minerals described—and now there are more than 5,500 minerals," said George E. Harlow. "The enhanced Halls will present up-to-date science, which has progressed significantly. I look forward to seeing visitors delight in remarkable gems and mineral specimens from across the globe and our own backyard, like those in the Minerals of New York display featuring specimens from all five boroughs."
The minerals on display across the hall are not just any minerals, either—you'll see:
- the 563-carat Star of India sapphire, the 632-carat Patricia Emerald, and the 110-carat diamond Organdie necklace designed by Michelle Ong for Carnet,
- a pair of towering, sparkling amethyst geodes that are among the world’s largest on display,
- a slice of a 35-million-year-old metasequoia—a petrified dawn redwood from the Cascade Mountains
- the 9-pound almandine Subway Garnet discovered under Manhattan’s 35th Street in 1885,
- the Tarugo, a 3-foot-tall cranberry-colored elbaite tourmaline that is one of the largest intact mineral crystal clusters ever found
- the Singing Stone, a massive block of vibrant blue azurite and green malachite from Arizona, first exhibited at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago,
- a wall-sized panel of fluorescent rock that glows in shades of orange and green, sourced from Sterling Hill in New Jersey,
- an ancient block of orbicular granite featuring unusual ball-shaped, radial clusters of crystals, sourced from one of Earth’s oldest enduring landmasses, the 2.7-billion-year-old Yilgarn Craton in Western Australia,
- a spectacular piece of yellow fluorite discovered in the Moscona Mine in the Austurias region of northwest Spain, which grew as hot water dissolved layers of limestone, replacing them with the cubic crystals coated with glistening pyrite,
- a slab of amphibolite rock containing huge almandine garnet crystals that formed more than a billion years ago, sourced from Gore Mountain in upstate New York,
- a 1.8-billion-year-old assemblage of large dravite tourmaline crystals, one of the oldest pieces in the Hall, which formed in present-day Western Australia in metamorphic rock,
- and a massive 5-foot beryl crystal section, sourced from the Bumpus Quarry in Albany, Maine.
"When you enter the Halls, you truly feel as if you’ve walked into the world’s jewelry box,” said Allison Mignone. "These Halls, and others in the Museum, take science off the page of textbooks and into the real-life experience of countless families and students. Now more than ever, equal access to education is paramount. We look forward to the time when large numbers of students and school groups and their teachers can visit. Halls like these are crucial and tangible tools that communicate the incredible variety of minerals on Earth and how they relate to our lives."
There will also be an interactive, dynamic periodic table of chemical elements that shows how minerals are made and a temporary exhibit called "Beautiful Creatures," a collection of exquisite historic and contemporary jewelry inspired by animals. Yes, that means Cartier’s iconic panthers and Suzanne Belperron’s butterflies—really any amazing pieces of jewelry from the mid-19th century to the present will be on display, arranged by air, water and land-dwelling animals.
Tickets to see the Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, which opens on June 12 at AMH, are included in general admission. They're now available at amnh.org.
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