About Julian Gray

Julian Gray is a geologist and curator of the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Bring Your Finds to Mystery Mineral Day February 23, 2019

Mark your calendars for the next Mystery Mineral Day, scheduled for Saturday, February 23, 2019 in the Northwest Gallery. This always-anticipated event runs from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and is included with admission to the museum.

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. Represented organizations include:

  • The North America Research Group (NARG), a prominent local fossil study organization
  • The Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory (CML), the leading Oregon resource for meteorite identification, based at Portland State University
  • Noted mineral collectors on the Museum’s Board of Directors; past experts included Gene Meieran, Scott Akenbrand, and Bruce Carter
  • Staff from the Rice NW Museum of Rocks and Minerals, including Curator Julian Gray

One of the exciting opportunities you can take advantage of is the chance to present potential meteorites to the panel. Most such specimens turn out to be “meteor-wrongs” and end up being slag, parts of old tools, or other man-made objects. But not always. In 1999 Donald Wesson and his wife Debbie discovered a large, interesting rock in a ditch in Oregon’s Morrow County and carried it home. After 10 years of storage, Mr. Wesson was inspired by a television show about meteorites to take the rock to a local county fair. Experts there were intrigued, and eventually, the 40-lb. rock was indeed verified as a meteorite. The Wessons sold their find, and in late 2018, it was acquired permanently by the Rice NW Museum and is now on display here. If you’ve got an old specimen laying around that you’ve always wondered about, bring it in!

Gravels from the Willamette River and the Pacific Ocean beaches are a specialty every year, and our panel excels in identifying agates, jasper, quartz, and petrified wood. Mystery Mineral Day is also a great opportunity to show off any noteworthy discoveries you made recently, to make the curator aware of your finds. In 2018, local collector Mike Kaufman brought in some excellent amethyst and quartz specimens he discovered in Tillamook County along a logging road in Oregon’s Coast Range. A pair of the noteworthy pieces are now on display thanks to Mike’s generous loan to the Museum.

New Topaz Crystals from Pakistan now on exhibit

A spectacular new specimen of topaz and smoky quartz crystals is now on exhibit at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals. This exhibit was recently donated by long-time museum supporters Sharon Meieran and Fred Cirillo.

Topaz and smoky quartz from Shigar Valley, Pakistan

The overall specimen, which stands over 14-inches tall, contains two large sherry-colored topaz crystals in a matrix of white/gray clevelandite (a variety of albite feldspar). Several large smoky quartz crystals tower over the topaz crystals. The minerals were found in the Shigar River Valley in the Himalayan Mountains of Pakistan, an area known the world over as a source of many varieties of gems including tourmaline and aquamarine. Spectacular specimens like this one occur in deposits at elevations of 8,000 to 13,000 feet above sea level. If gem crystals are able to grow into an open cavity as they form, we get these amazing and showy rocks.

One of the reasons we close on Mondays and Tuesdays is so that we can perform case cleaning, maintenance and installation of new exhibits such as this one. We received several other fine mineral donations in the last month. Look for these to be on exhibit in the museum soon.

If you would like to come see the new specimen, Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals is open special Holiday Hours this Wednesday-Sunday from 10:00 AM-5:00 PM. Happy holidays from all of us at Rice Northwest Museum!

Rice Museum’s Summer Fest – August 4 & 5, 2018

Our 15th annual Summer Fest 2018 will be at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals Saturday and Sunday, August 4-5, 2018. The hours are 10 AM – 5 PM. Admission is $6 for everyone ages 5 and up!

Summer Fest 2018 Poster

Geodes and other minerals and rocks for sale at vendor booths. The outdoor festival features a wide variety of rock, mineral, gem, jewelry, and fossil dealers. We will have food for purchase, live music, and plenty of fun family activities.

Rock clubs from around the region will be offering wonderful educational displays, demonstrations, and activities.

Come early and stay the whole day. The entire museum will be open during this event, so you can explore all our displays after browsing vendors’ tents and creating a “pet rock.” Bring a picnic lunch or enjoy the refreshments at the museum.

It’s a perfect event to spend with friends and family. Bring them all!


2016 Northwest Fossil Fest at the Rice Northwest Museum

2016 NW FOssil Fest PosterThe Northwest Fossil Fest sponsored by the North America Research Group (NARG) will take place at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals on Saturday, August 13, 2016, from 10 AM to 5 PM.

The Theme for the 11th Annual Northwest Fossil Fest Fossil Teeth!

The event is free for families to learn about fossils, fossil collecting, preparation, identification, hands on demonstrations, and educational displays. There will also be two great talks.  The first will be Dr. John Bershaw of the Geology Department at Portland State University. He will be talking about how he uses fossil teeth to measure changes in chemistry that tell us something about how the past environment changed.  Victor Perez of the University of Florida will present a talk entitled “The Giant Megalodon and what we know about it from Teeth.”

Paleontologists will be on hand identify fossils and to show kids of all ages how to clean and prepare fossils.  There will be lots of hands on activities and this is a great event for families and fossil fans.  Attendance for the Fossil Fest includes free admission to the museum.

For more information and up-to-the-minute information see Northwest Fossil Fest.

There is still time to make your 2015 contribution to help the Rice NW Museum

Without you, the educational programs of the Rice NW Museum would not be possible. If you have not yet made your contributions to the Rice NW Museum this year, there is still time.

Cash contributions by mail

All cash contributions are 100% deductible.  You can mail your check to the museum and as long as the letter is post marked by December 31, 2015 you can deduct the donation for 2015.

Cash contributions online

Making your contribution is easy and safe to do online.  Just click our DONATE button on any page of our website.

In person

We love to see our supporters. Stop by the museum Gift Shop and make your contribution in person.  You  can also call and we can take your contribution over the phone.

IRA transfer

If you are at least 70-1/2 years old, you can make a charitable contribution to the Rice NW Museum by rolling over any amount of an IRA up to $100,000 tax free. Contact your investment adviser to ask how to do this.  This is retroactive to January 1, 2015 and is now permanent so consider doing this in 2016 as well.

Shop and contribute

If you shop at Fred Meyers, register your shopping card online through their Community Rewards Program. You can also shop through the Amazon Smile program. Doing either of these things cost you nothing extra and Fred Meyers and Amazon will contribute a portion of your purchase to the Rice NW Museum.


Become a member of the Rice NW Museum. You will get unlimited free admission to the museum and other museums in the Portland area (details will be announced next week). You will also get invited to special events at the museum that will be announced throughout 2016.  Already a members?  Renew, extend your membership, or upgrade your membership level.

Other ways to support us

There are many other ways to support us:

  • In-kind donations of rocks and minerals
  • Volunteer your time or services
  • Adopt-a-mineral
  • Sponsor an exhibit or event

2015 has been a great year of growth for the museum and 2016 looks even brighter. Please consider supporting us so that we can further our mission.

Veterans and Active Military receive FREE admission Veteran’s Day

To honor those who have or are serving in our nation’s military, the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks an Minerals will admit all veterans and active military free of charge on Veteran’s Day (Wednesday, November 11, 2015).  We thank all the brave men and women who serve our country to preserve the freedoms we enjoy.

The museum will be open to the public regular business hours, which are 1:00 to 5:00 PM.  Please remember to bring your military ID with you.

New York Times article calls attention to the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals

In a November 1, 2015 article in the New York Times, Quentin Hardy calls attention to five noteworthy museums around the United States.  The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals is one of the museums highlighted in the article.  Other unique museums mentioned include the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York; the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma; the Ringling in Sarasota, Florida; the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota; and Walt’s Barn in Los Angeles, California.

Image of the New York Times article featuring the Rice NW MUseum

35th Annual Portland Regional Gem and Mineral Show in Hillsboro

The 2015 Portland Regional Gem Mineral Show Association is the 35th Annual event hosted by the Portland Regional Gem and Mineral Association October 9-11, 2015.

This is one of the largest rock, gem, and mineral shows in the Pacific Northwest, bringing together over 40 dealers and hundreds of exhibits. There will be demonstrations, lectures, workshops, educational programs, specimens, and more through out the entire weekend.

Admission is $5 per day for adults. Children 12 and under are free accompanied by an adult.

The event will be at the Washington County Fair Complex across from the Hillsboro Airport in Hillsboro, Oregon.

For more information, see the 2015 Portland Regional Gem Mineral Show Association announcements and news.

FREE admission during Smithsonian magazine’s annual Museum Day Live! September 26, 2015

Smithsonian-Magazine-Museum-Day-LiveThe Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals will open its doors free of charge on Saturday, September 26, 2015, as part of the Smithsonian magazine’s eleventh 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 Smithsonian.com/museumdaylive Each ticket will allow two guest to be admitted at no charge. One ticket is permitted per household, per email address. The Rice NW Museum is just one of 29 participating Oregon Museums.  For more information about Museum Day Live! 2015 and a list of other participating museums and cultural institutions, please visit: Smithsonian.com/museumdaylive/venues. And remember, the Rice Northwest Museum is open Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Faceting Classes 2015 – 2016 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 2015-2016 year. If you would like information on these and future classes, please contact the museum directly.

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 4 or 5 classes (depending on session chosen) with 5 day  sessions taught from 1 to 5 PM and 4 day sessions from 12 PM until 5 PM. All equipment and materials are provided and students get to keep all stones completed in the class. Continue reading