December Birthstone Day this Saturday

This Saturday is Birthstone Day for December. That means free museum admission for anyone born in the month of December!

Cathodoluminescence image of a zircon crystal from Jack Hills. Photo: John Valley, University of Wisconsin

December babies, your birthstone is zircon. Forget diamonds: zircons are truly forever. The oldest known minerals in Earth’s crust are zircons from Jack Hills in Australia. They have been dated to 4.4 billion years old!

Give to the Rice NW Museum on #GivingTuesday

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 is international #GivingTuesday, a day to give back. Please keep the Rice Northwest Museum in your giving plans for this year.

The event is the day after Cyber Monday and is designed to encourage giving to others. The supporters recommending giving freely of your time volunteering, giving to charity, and giving back.

On Thanksgiving, we give thanks. On Black Friday, we give deals. On Cyber Monday, we get online. On Giving Tuesday, we give back.

And you know what the greatest, coolest, most innovative part about this whole movement is? It doesn’t matter how much you give, or how much you give, only that you give. Join in. Be part of a movement.

You may give to the museum by:

It takes a few dollars or hours to make a huge difference in the museum’s ability to offer free and low cost programs for school children from around the Pacific Northwest, local, national, and international educational outreach programs, to offer extraordinary exhibits and special programs, and introduce thousands of people to the joy of rock collecting and preservation and natural sciences.

The project is a United Nations Foundation program.

Antique Trader’s Guide to Fine Mineral Collection Recommends Rice Museum

Print version of Antique Trader Magazine Article on Fine Mineral Collection featuring the Rice Northwest Rock and Mineral Museum.The Antique Trader magazine recently featured the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals as one of their favorite resources in their article, “Digging for Information: 10 Things to Consider Before Collecting Fine Minerals.”

The article is a step-by-step guide for those considering if fine mineral collecting is right for you, offering helpful information and resources, like our museum, to learn more about the art of collecting.

Fine Mineral Collecting is the collecting of one-of-a-kind natural minerals such as the red rhodochrosite that represents the Rice NW Museum on display in the museum’s Main Gallery downstairs, alongside many other rare and unusual minerals including tourmaline, benitoite, paravauxite, legrandite, and papagoite.

Fine mineral collectors collect as much for the beauty, shape and form, as well as their rarity, quality, and value. For many, finding and displaying a piece of natural history, a precious mineral formed over millions of years in a “combination of fluid, heat, and pressure,” is reward enough.

As mentioned in the article, by becoming a fine mineral collector, you would be in good company.

Who knows, your piece may have been owned by Andrew Carnegie, Washington Roebling (builder of the Brooklyn Bridge) or even famous pianist Roger Williams or [Oscar-winning composer of “Titanic”] James Horner, all of whom were avid Fine Mineral collectors.

Other famous fine mineral collectors include Colonel Washington A. Roebling, the inventor of wire cable and builder of the famous Brooklyn Bridge, Pauline Armstrong of the Schlitz-Anheuser-Bush family, famous Spanish photographers José Manuel Sanchez and Francisco Piña, Sir Arthur Russell, 6th Baronet of England, Gene Meieren of Intel, Frau Dr. Erika Pohl of Wella Balsam Cosmetics, Michael Scott of Apple Computers, and Dr. Edward David Jr., former Nixon era science adviser.

The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals offers workshops, lectures, and help to get you started on your own fine mineral collecting hobby. Come by for a visit and learn more about how you, too, can start exploring the exciting and beautiful world of minerals.

Rice NW Museum to exhibit at the Portland Regional Gem and Mineral Show plus two other venues

This is a busy week for the Rice NW Museum. Rockhounds, mineral enthusiasts and teachers can find us at one of three different events this coming Columbus Day weekend.

Portland Regional Gem and Mineral Show – October 10 – 12, 2014

The Rice NW Museum will be in attendance at the Portland Regional Gem & Mineral show all three days of the show. Our gift shop will be joining the more than forty dealers selling mineral related items. Proceeds help support our educational programming at the museum. The Rice NW Museum will also be among the more than one hundred educational exhibits. In addition, there will be lectures, book signings, demonstrations, kids activities, and much, much more during the show. Those who attend the Portland Regional Show can get $2 off regular admission to the Rice NW Museum this weekend with proof of paid admission to the show.

Oregon Science Teachers Association Fall Meeting – October 10-11, 2014

Education and outreach are important to fulfilling the mission of the Rice NW Museum. If you are an educator, you will want to catch the Rice NW Museum’s curator and outreach specialist, Leslie Moclock, at the Oregon Science Teachers Association 2014 Fall Conference. Leslie will be sharing information about our school tours and off-site programming at this conference.

Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Friends of Mineralogy – October 10-12, 2014

The Friends of Mineralogy is an organization whose focus is on mineral science education. The Pacific Northwest boasts one of the largest and most active chapters of this organization. The theme of the annual fall symposium of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of Friends of Mineralogy is Minerals of Colorado. The Rice NW Museum will have an educational exhibit featuring some of our better Colorado minerals. Museum director, Julian Gray, will be attending the symposium and facilitating the seminar Saturday and Sunday.

FREE admission during Smithsonian magazine’s tenth annual Museum Day Live! September 27, 2014

Smithsonian-Magazine-Museum-Day-LiveThe Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals will open its doors free of charge on Saturday, September 27, 2014, as part of the Smithsonian magazine’s tenth annual Museum Day Live! A nationwide event, Museum Day Live! offers free admission to visitors who present a Museum Day Live! ticket at a participating museum or cultural institution.

Get your Museum Day Live! ticket at Each ticket will allow two guest to be admitted at no charge. One ticket is permitted per household, per email address. For more information about Museum Day Live! 2014 and a list of other participating museums and cultural institutions, please visit: And remember, the Rice Northwest Museum just extended our hours, the museum is open 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

New weekend hours for the Rice NW Museum announced

Beginning September 20, 2014, the Rice NW Museum will be open from 10 AM to 5 PM on weekends.  At last, visitors will be able to enjoy the Rice NW Museum exhibits and shop the museum gift shop on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

These new hours coincide with the weekend of the Oregon International Air Show held at the Hillsboro Airport, which is just across the Sunset Highway (Highway 26).  So come out this weekend, avoid the air show traffic, tour the museum, then stick around and enjoy the air show.  Parking is free at the Rice NW Museum.

And please let us know what you think of these new hours.  We’d love to hear from you.

Rice NW Museum honored for educational exhibits at the 2014 Denver Gem & Mineral Show

Julian Gray and Leslie Moclock with the Rice NW Museum case of agates at the 2014 Denver Gem & Mineral Show. This case won the Donna Chirnside Memorial Award for best educational case by a museum.

Thousands of people attended the Denver Gem & Mineral Show held the second weekend in September each year in Denver, Colorado. The theme of this year’s show was near and dear to the heart of the Rice NW Museum and Oregonians rockhounds: Agate. Agates are found in many places in Oregon and are well represented in the Rice NW Museum’s permanent exhibits. Curator Leslie Moclock selected about two dozen of the best agates and thundereggs from the museum’s collection for two temporary educational exhibits at the show September 12-14, 2014. Taking the museum to mineral collectors in attendance at shows is part of the museum’s outreach program.

Both exhibit cases were recognized for their excellence in educational content and quality of exhibition. The Denver Gem & Mineral Show Committee selected the Rice NW Museum’s case on the origin of agates for the Donna Chirnside Memorial Award honoring the best display by an institution at the show.  The Friends of Mineralogy, a group that promotes mineral education, awarded the Best Educational Case by an Institution Award to the Rice NW Museum case featuring thundereggs, Oregon’s State Rock.

Faceting Classes 2014 – 2015 Schedule


The Columbia Willamette Faceters Guild has released its schedule of classes for Beginning Gemstone Faceting at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals for the 2014-2015 year. If you would like information on these and future classes, please contact them directly, not the museum.

Participants and students are introduced to the theory and techniques of faceting gemstones. During the course, students will facet one or two gemstones with material and equipment provided by the Faceter’s Guild. Students gain sufficient knowledge to continue faceting on their own.

The classes are held in the Rice Northwest Museum’s Faceting Lab. The classes offer 20 hours of instruction across 5 classes from 1PM to 5PM. You have a choice of a 5 week class schedule on Saturdays or a 3 week class schedule of 3 Saturdays and 2 Sundays. All equipment and materials are provided. Continue reading

Volcano in Iceland Stops Air Traffic

National Geographic answers the question, “Why Iceland’s volcanoes have vexed humans for centuries?”

Witze says that Iceland’s volcanoes have affected human communities for more than a thousand years and that Bárđarbunga is responsible for the largest eruption anywhere on Earth in the last 10,000 years.

Some of the most famous ones in the last couple of decades have been Surtsey, a brand-new island that rose from the waves off the southern coast in 1963, and Heimaey, another island where in 1973 an eruption began in the middle of the night, in the middle of a town.

But if you go further back in time you can find much more devastating examples. In the year 1104, the volcano Hekla covered more than half the island with pumice. And in 1783, Laki erupted for eight months, pouring out the biggest lava flow in recorded history. Laki also emitted more than 100 million tons of sulfur dioxide, which drifted over Europe to form a choking fog that damaged crops and changed the climate for years.

Iceland has approximately 30 volcanoes, and Bárđarbunga, the largest volcano in that part of the planet, is threatening to erupt. Air traffic over the area is currently suspended.

The Iceland Meteorological Office features a live webcam of the glacier covered volcano.

We recently covered volcanoes and the havoc they cause in our story on the Mt. St. Helens Volcano.

Earthquake Science

On Sunday, August 24, 2014, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck the Napa Valley of California. According to the National Geographic, the event was centered about 6.7 miles under the earth and was one of the largest in the area since the 1989 Loma Prieta quake that measured 7.0.

Today’s quake was reported by the Earthquake Report Center from San Francisco to Sacramento and classified as a “typical strike-slip earthquake with a mainly horizontal movement.” They called it the “most dangerous earthquake type in the world.” Their web page monitors and updates news about the earthquake.

While reports are still coming in, initial reports suggest this earthquake was triggered by a crack or fault in the earth’s crust known as the Franklin Fault, thought to be dormant for 1.6 million years. Continue reading