Mystery Mineral Day (March 12th)

A young person stands in the Northwest Gallery of the Rice Museum holding a rock with "Fred" written on it in black ink. In the background volunteer experts can be seen IDing mystery minerals.

Mark your calendars for the return of Mystery Mineral Day, scheduled for Sunday, March 12th, 2023 in the Northwest Gallery. The always-anticipated event runs from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Every year, the Museum organizes a panel of experts in the fields of rock & mineral identification, fossil study, and meteorite analysis. We bring together experts from multiple fields to inspect your “mystery” finds and tell you what you’ve found. The event is FREE with paid general admission. We encourage you to schedule an appointment. Limit 5 items ID’d per person. Capacity will be limited.


Jill Johanssen
Jill describes herself as “one of those kids who loved rocks”. For as long as she can remember she was picking up rocks, putting in her pockets, (and one up her nose), then stashing them in a large shoe box under the stairs in her father’s garage. It was a hobby Jill studied on her own and though she took some Geology in college, it was only the rock science that really had her interest. Jill attended the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and turned her hobby into a career. Her goal is to one day teach Gemology and share her passion with others. Nothing makes her happier than seeing people of all ages get excited to learn and knowing she can help inspire rock lovers everywhere.

Scott Ankenbrand

Scott has spent his professional life in the Financial sector, first working for the US Treasury as a bank examiner and then in the private sector, but he has a lifelong love affair with minerals! He still has the very first specimen that started the obsession. He appreciates the aesthetics of all minerals, but has a special interest in fluorites and quartz. However, he will gravitate towards any specimen that he finds visually appealing, from thumbnails to large cabinet pieces. Scott continues to have a passion for field collecting, and tries to take a trip every year. Even if he doesn’t find a world class specimen, the adventure, and the friends made, is a major part of the fun. Scott is a member of and on the Board of Directors of the Pacific NW Friends of Mineralogy.

Roy Schiesser

Roy is a retired teacher of 33 years who worked at high school and community college. His passion is the earth and teaching. He was trained at Arizona State University with a focus on ore deposits and completed graduate studies in educational leadership. Currently his hobby is pocket billiards.

John Lillie

Retired Rice Museum Employee John Lillie likes to play with rocks.

Greg Carr

Local Amateur Paleontologist Greg Carr is an active member of the North American Research Group (NARG), a frequent contributor and member of the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals and has volunteered for years at OMSI. Greg has prepared, loaned, donated, or conserved many impressive specimens for the museum, including “Bernie” the Thalattosaur, a large Brontothere skull, and an impressive plate of local Crinoids.

Angela Piller
Angela is the Collection Manager of the Rice Museum. She develops exhibits, conserves our collection of minerals, gems, rocks, meteorites, and fossils, and promotes the museum’s mission to engage, inspire, and educate on the wonder and complexity of our Earth. She has a background in surficial processes and environmental geology and loves the Pacific Northwest. Her favorite mineral is wulfenite.

Joe Cantrell
Cantrell is Cherokee, originally from Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and has made his home in Oregon for the last 30 years. Cantrell did two Navy tours in Vietnam, during his second tour he was a diving officer in the Mekong Delta. He stayed in Southeast Asia another 15 years, working primarily as a photojournalist until 1986. Among Cantrell’s multiple careers, he has taught at the Oregon College of Art and Craft, and the Pacific Northwest College of Art. He is now happily retired and making more artwork than ever.

Cantrell utilizes extremely close-up macro images to reveal forms inside of rocks and fossils. Adapting spy satellite imaging software for artistic purposes, Cantrell also photographs rocks and pictograms in the Columbia River Gorge, often revealing remarkable things that the naked eye cannot see. “these images show how interconnected we are; we are all the same stardust”.

Gene Meieran
Gene, an Intel Senior Fellow (retired) received his Doctor’s degree in Materials Science from MIT in 1963; he chose this field as his profession directly as a result of starting to collect natural crystals as early as 1948! Gene is well known in the mineral field for his contributions to many mineral museums as well as for his many fascinating mineral displays at Tucson and Munich shows. He is Chairman of the Board for the University of Arizona Mineral Museum, and Vice President of the Board of Rice NW Museum, as well as serving on various university boards in his technical profession. Gene is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has an honorary doctorate from Purdue University.

Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks & Minerals
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