The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals is home to over 20,000 rock and mineral specimens. Here are the answers to many of the frequently asked questions about the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals. We offer expert research and science information on our specimens in the Science category on our blog. If you have any additional questions that are not answered here, please feel free to contact the museum for more information.
Q. Why is it called the Rice Museum?
A. The museum was originally built as the home of Richard and Helen Rice and much of the rock and mineral collection was their personal collection, hence the name Rice. Both Richard and Helen died in 1997.
Q. Was this building a private home?
A. Yes. The museum building is the former home of Richard and Helen Rice. It was designed by Portland architect William L. Wayman and built in 1952 by Victor Batchelar of Hillsboro. Most of the downstairs area has built-in custom display cases specifically designed to house the collection of the Rice Family. Over the years, the building slowly transitioned from home to museum. As family members, including the Rices, moved out and the collections expanded, upstairs bedrooms were converted into galleries to house collections and educational exhibits like the mineralogy room and Rainbow Room (fluorescent mineral gallery). A storage room downstairs became the gallery that now houses the Dennis and Mary Murphy petrified wood collection.
Q. What is the rock used in the walls of the building?
A. The rock used in the building, both inside and out, is a tan to salmon colored sandstone. This particular stone is the Coconino sandstone from Coconino County, Arizona, an eolian (wind-blown) sandstone deposited in ancient sand dunes during the Permian period (260 million years ago), composed mainly of quartz grains.
Q. What woods are used in the building?
A. There are two woods found inside the museum: myrtle wood and quilted maple. Richard Rice personally logged all the wood used in the finished work in the building. Myrtle wood, which is only found in Israel and Southwest Oregon (Coos County) is the most prevalent wood seen in the walls, doors, and trim. Quilted maple was used in the kitchen and pantry areas. The woodwork was done by Thompson Cabinet Works of Hillsboro, Oregon. You are free to explore the entire building and museum staff will gladly show you some of the unique features of the house.
Q. Do you do appraisals?
A. No, providing appraisals would create a conflict of interest with our status as a non-profit museum.
Q. How can I get a rock identified?
A. We will gladly help identify your rock. Call the main museum phone (503-647-2418) and ask for the curator, or use our contact form to tell us more. Please call ahead to schedule a meeting time with the curator so you do not arrive only to find that she is at an off-site event for the day!
Q. Do you buy minerals and collections?
A. As a general rule, no. However, each inquiry is considered on an individual basis and gifts for our collections are always appreciated.
Q. How do I donate rocks, minerals, etc. to the museum?
A. Please contact our curator via Call the main museum phone (503-647-2418) and ask for the curator, or use our contact form to discuss your donation. We would love to see your specimens and are honored you are considering us for your gift, though we regret that we do not have enough space to accept every offer. As we are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, your gifts are tax-deductible.
Q. Are pets allowed in the Museum?
A. Only service animals are allowed inside the museum buildings. Pets are welcome outside only and must be on a leash. We ask that you pick up after your pets.
Q. Do you sell rock hammers, tumblers or other rock hounding equipment?
A. No, however, Ed’s House of Gems (503-284-8990) may carry what you need.