Rice Northwest Museum and Smithsonian Affiliation Featured on The Oregonian

The Oregonian got a sneak peak at our press release and published “Rice NW Museum of Rocks and Minerals announces new affiliation with Smithsonian” to help us honor and celebrate the museum’s new affiliation with the Smithsonian.

Screenshot of Oregonian article on Rice NW Museum and Smithsonian affiliation.

Speaking for the Smithsonian, Harold A. Closter, director of Smithsonian Affiliations, is quoted as saying, “The museum has a well-deserved reputation for engaging generations in earth sciences through its scholarship, exhibitions, and education programs. Our partnership offers the opportunity to underscore the importance of science as a source of inspiration in our daily lives and in the years ahead.”

Since the museum appointed Julian Gray as executive director in late spring of 2014, it has drawn a number of awards for its traveling exhibits. Most recently, it won top honors for its exhibit “Lead Minerals” at the 2015 Tucson Gem & Mineral Show.

The new relationship between the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals and Smithsonian Institution has the potential to bring specimens and exhibits from the Smithsonian and provide opportunities for collaboration with scientists on research projects, exhibitions, lectures and programs.

We will keep you updated with more news about this exciting affiliation on our social media channels: @RiceNWMuseum, on Google+, and the Facebook Page for Rice NW Museum.

Press Release: The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals Now Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution

Hillsboro, Oregon, April 17, 2015

The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals has been named as an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. This mark of distinction signifies the achievement of a goal long held by the Rice Museum’s originators, according to co-founder Sharleen Harvey. Her parents, Richard and Helen Rice, “had great respect for the Smithsonian Institution and used their collections as a high standard for quality and beauty when building the Rice Museum collection,” Mrs. Harvey explained. “Being a Smithsonian Affiliate confirms that our museum has the high caliber required to assist our schools and community in earth science education. It assures that visitors and supporters of the museum can have confidence in the quality and content of the exhibits, plus enjoyment in viewing fine minerals, fossils, meteorites, and lapidary specimens.”

“The Smithsonian is very proud of its new Affiliation with the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals,” stated Harold A. Closter, director of the Smithsonian Affiliations program. “The Museum has a well-deserved reputation for engaging generations in earth sciences through its scholarship, exhibitions, and education programs. Our partnership offers the opportunity to underscore the importance of science as a source of inspiration in our daily lives and in the years ahead.”

Established in 1996, Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program that develops long-term collaborative partnerships with museums and other educational and cultural organizations in order to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources. The long-term goal of Smithsonian Affiliations is to facilitate a mutual relationship among Affiliate organizations and the Smithsonian Institution to increase discovery and inspire lifelong learning in communities across the United States.

The new relationship between the Rice Museum and the Smithsonian will bring great things to museum visitors in the Pacific Northwest. Not only will the Rice Museum be able to borrow objects and exhibits from the Smithsonian’s collections, but the Museum will also gain opportunities to collaborate on research projects and to sponsor exciting programs from renowned visiting scholars.

“We expect the Affiliation to serve our community well,” explains Julian Gray, Rice Museum executive director. “It will help us increase awareness of our excellent museum and attract more visitors to the area, allowing more people to experience our own world-class exhibits, events, and educational programs.”

Board President and Intel Senior Fellow (retired) Gene Meieran hopes that “this association will lead to the creation of next-generation collectors, curators, and scientists who will continue to preserve and understand our fascinating and ever-changing natural history.”

The Rice Museum houses a premier collection of rocks and minerals recognized as the finest in the Pacific Northwest and one of the best in the nation. The museum is located in Hillsboro, Oregon, just west of Portland (exit 61 off highway 26). Its educational programs include organized school field trips as well as ongoing educational outreach throughout the community at large. A variety of public and private events are hosted throughout the year as well. The museum is listed on the National Registry of Historic Homes for its unique architectural style and its use of natural stone and extraordinary native Oregon woodwork throughout the building.

For more information about the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, call (503) 647-2418. Receive updates on museum events by following the Twitter handle @RiceNWMuseum, on Google+, or the Facebook Page for Rice NW Museum.

More information is available on the Smithsonian Affiliations program and Affiliate activities site.

Meteorites Bring the Building Blocks of Life

Meteorite Day at the Museum May 23, 2015 Visit us at the Rice NW Museum on Saturday, May 23, for our annual Meteorite Day. There will be guest lectures and special events for the family all day.

Scientific American reports that life began on meteorites. Well, actually the ingredients necessary to start the building blocks of life on this planet did.

The molecules that kick-started life on primordial Earth could have been made in space and delivered by meteorites, according to researchers in Italy. The group synthesised sugars, amino acids and nucleobases with nothing more than formamide, meteorite material and the power of a simulated solar wind, replicating a process they believe cooked up a prebiotic soup long before life existed on Earth.

Formamide is a simple organic compound first suggested as a starting material for the formation of prebiotic biomolecules back in 2001. The chemical has been detected in galactic centres and stellar nurseries, as well as comets and satellites. These latest experiments show that formamide, irradiated by the solar wind…and in the presence of powdered meteorites, gave rise to amino acids, carboxylic acids, sugars and nucleosides—the building blocks of DNA and RNA.

The scientists speculate that this could mean that life formed on other planets might share similarities with the life formed on earth.

Gibeon Meteorite at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals.The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals features many meteorites on exhibit discovered all around the world from Russia, Argentina, Namibia, the United States, and Australia. The extensive meteorite exhibit was put together by the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory from the Geology Department of Portland State University.

Take a moment as you enter the main gallery area near the entrance to run your fingers across the large Gibeon meteorite found in Africa for a bone chilling sensation. Made mostly of iron, touch it and know that you’ve actually touched space metal and maybe even the ingredients to life on this planet.

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Volcano Watch and Educational Resources

Interested in volcanoes? The staff at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals are fascinated not only by volcanoes but the geology of them as well. We’ve put together a collection of online resources to help you learn more about active and inactive volcanoes.

United States Geological Survey Volcano Hazards Program

Mount St. Helens Eruption - credit Simple English Wikipedia.The United States Geological Survey features a Volcano Hazards Program website with an interactive map displaying volcanoes worldwide and their active status, from dormant to high red level warnings. You will also find the latest news on volcanoes, especially those in North America and the United States. Recent reports and photographs of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii are fascinating as the lava moves down roads and into agricultural areas on the big island of Hawaii.

You will find Webcams, educational information on US volcanoes, Podcasts and Videos, Elevated Volcanic Activity Updates, Monitoring data, and an amazing Photoglossary with photographs and definitions of volcanic terms.

For the locals living in and around the Rice Museum, the Cascades Volcano Observatory keeps us informed as to activity in the Cascade Mountains from Washington to Northern California. They reported in February on a new study that designates the at-risk areas of Washington State and Oregon.

Washington State lahar-hazard zones contain an estimated 191,555 residents, 108,719 employees at 8,807 businesses, 433 public venues that attract visitors, and 354 dependent-care facilities with individuals who will need assistance to evacuate during an emergency. Mount Rainier lahar-hazard zones contain the highest percentage of assets, followed by Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams. Residential populations within lahar-prone areas increased between 1990 and 2010, mainly in the Mount Rainier lahar-hazard zone, with some communities doubling and tripling their at-risk population. Many of these new residents may be unaware of the lahar threat.

See the Simplified Hazard Maps for the Cascade Volcano area for fascinating details on the Volcano Hazard Zones. Continue reading

15,000 Year Old Agate Knife Found in Oregon

Orange Agate from Rimrock Draw Rockshelter Excavation - Bureau of Land Management Oregon held in hand.OPB Radio reported on the amazing archaeological discover of a knife carved from agate currently estimated from 15,000 years ago in Eastern Oregon, evidence of what could be the oldest human occupation west of the Rocky Mountains, shaking up many theories on North American human history.

Carved from clear orange agate, the stone knife has been described as a Swiss Army Knife of its day with a serrated point edge like a saw and a steep, flaked edge used to carve wood and scrape hides and cut meat from the bones of prey. Blood found on the stone has been tested and found to be Bison antiques, an ancient ancestor of the modern bison or buffalo in North America. Continue reading

Thunder-Egg-Stravaganza April 4, 2015

On Saturday, April 4, come to to the museum for our thunderegg hunt! Find whole thundereggs and plastic eggs to redeem for prizes. We will have free thunderegg cutting all day so you can discover what lies inside your find! Additionally, come see a talk on Thundereggs of the Pacific Northwest at 11 AM or 1 PM, as well as our regular museum tour at 2 PM.

2015_eggstravaganza

Event details:

Saturday, April 4, from 10 AM – 5 PM

$5 admission (children 4 and under are free)

We will cut up to two thundereggs per visitor. Please no outside eggs.

Free Admission for March Birthdays on Saturday, 3/7

This first Saturday in March is Birthstone Day, meaning admission is free for people born in the month of March!

Aquamarine

       Aquamarine beryl from Pakistan

March babies, your birthstone is aquamarine. This lovely gemstone is one of several varieties of the mineral beryl. Iron gives aquamarine its distinctive sea-blue color. (Emerald, another well-known variety of beryl, is colored green by chromium.

Villarrica Volcano Eruption

Chile’s Villarrica volcano erupted recently with dramatic lightning strikes and lava shooting into the night sky causing approximately 3,000 people to evacuate the area, and others to rush to study the dramatic volcanic eruption. The eruption is predicted to last several days and possibly several weeks.

Villarrica is one of the most active and dangerous volcanoes in Chile among more than 2,000 volcanoes in the Andes cordillera. About 90 volcanoes remain active.

Villarrica, Pucón, Cile  (AP Photo/Aton Chile)

Considered one of the most active volcanoes in the Andean Mountains, natives call the volcano Rucapillán which means “House of the Spirit.” Continue reading

Mt. Hood Rock Club Show

Mt. Hood Rock Club Show 2015 Flyer.The Mt. Hood Rock Club Show is Friday-Saturday, April 24-26, 2015, at the Kiever Memorial National Guard Armory on 10000 NE 33rd Drive, Portland, Oregon, west of PDX Airport. Admission is free, and each child attending receives a free rock.

Over 24 vendors selling rocks, minerals, fossils, jewelry, beads, and equipment are featured, along with many activities for adults and children especially children including a kids corner with games and door prizes. Special exhibits will include lapidary work and minerals from around the world and local discoveries.

This year, they will be tracking the schools the of the attending children. The school with the highest student attendance will win a selection of rocks and minerals for display in their school.

Tualatin Valley Rock and Gem Club 57th Annual Rock and Mineral Show

Tualatin Valley Gem Club 57th Annual Rock and Mineral Show flyer.The Tualatin Valley Rock and Gem Club will be hosting the 57th Annual Rock and Mineral Show on March 13-15, 2015, Friday – Sunday, at the Washington Country Fairplex in Hillsboro, Oregon, near the Hillsboro Airport.

The show features a wide range of rocks, minerals, gems, jewelry, fossils, dealers, and supplies, with exhibits, demonstrations, door prizes, and a kid’s corner. The rock show is open to families with general admission $1, children under 12 free with adult.