New Museum Exhibit: “What’s inside a rock?”

Have you ever picked up a rock and wondered about what might be inside? This new exhibit puts everyday rocks under the microscope to show the beautiful secrets inside ordinary stones.

What's inside a rock?

This exhibit sheds light on some of the science behind the gorgeous minerals displayed at the museum. It’s great for families and people of all ages!

Come visit to discover the humble ingredient in over half the rocks on Earth’s surface and find out what, exactly, makes something a crystal. You can even check it out during the museum’s upcoming Summer Fest, taking place this year on August 6 & 7 from 10 AM through 5 PM.

New Display from Columbia-Willamette Faceters’ Guild

We would like to welcome the Columbia-Willamette Faceters’ Guild’s new club display!

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Members of the CWFG will be displaying their own cut gemstones in two cases located by the Fred Van Sandt faceting display in the Master Gallery. This materials in this display will be rotated every six months in order to showcase new works.

The word “gemstone” often conjures up the image of a round brilliant-cut diamond or one of a few other simple shapes. But many other faceting designs exist, and more are being dreamed up every day. CWFG members are inventive practitioners of the craft and we are delighted to show off their innovative stones.

The CWFG joins four other regional rock & lapidary clubs who showcase their members’ work at the museum. Be sure to look for other display cases by the Oregon Agate & Mineral Society, Tualatin Valley Gem Club, Mt. Hood Rock Club, and the Clackamette Mineral & Gem Society.

Rice Museum wins Educational Award at 2015 Tucson Gem & Mineral Show

The national organization Friends of Mineralogy awarded the Rice Museum with a top honors for “Best Educational Exhibit by an Institution” at the 2015 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show® (TGMS) for our display, “Lead Minerals.”

FM President awards Rice Museum Edcuational Case Award

Friends of Mineralogy President Alex Schauss presents Rice Museum Curator Leslie Moclock with the award for Best Educational Exhibit by at Institution during the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show Banquet February 14, 2015. (Photo by Al Leibetrau)

The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show®, the World’s largest such show, draws an estimated 50,000 visitors each year. The show invites museums, private collectors, and clubs from around the world to create display cases with their best specimens related to the annual theme. The TGMS began as a club show housed in a local elementary school in 1954, and today is a premiere international event that gives visitors a chance to view specimens from some of the world’s finest mineral collections.

This year’s show theme was “Minerals of Western Europe.” Mineral science as we know it today has its roots in European scholarship and mining development, and this theme inspired many displays focused on historical collections and famous European localities.

The Rice Museum display combined superb mineral specimens from well-known localities with mineral science education. The display theme, minerals containing the element lead, was chosen to demonstrate how useful and beautiful lead minerals can be. The vibrant green pyromorphite, yellow mimetite, and lustrous red wulfenite on display contrast with the popular notion of lead as nothing but a dull metal. The display also discussed how the crystal structures in some lead minerals contribute to their crystal shapes, and the importance of lead ores and mining in ancient history.

Rice Museum Tucson Educational Case

Rice Museum exhibit case at the 2015 Tucson Gem & Mineral Show featuring lead minerals.

Tying in with the show theme, European specimens in the display included a green pyromorphite plate from Les Farges Mine, France (center); green and brown pyromorphite from Friedrichssegen Mine, Germany; green pyromorphite from Chaillac Mine, France; vitreous white anglesite from Monteponi Mine, Italy; and one of the world’s largest phosgenite crystals, also from Monteponi Mine, Italy.

Education is at the heart of all that we do at the Rice Museum, and we are thrilled to be recognized for our efforts at the 2015 TGMS.

New Permanent Exhibit of Rare Myrickite on Display

The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, in Hillsboro, Oregon, is proud to announce a new permanent exhibit featuring myrickite carvings, slabs, jewelry, and polished specimens, all donated by John Li of Portland, Oregon.

Myrickite is a lapidary term that refers to agatized or opalized cinnabar (a mercury mineral). It is the small quantity of mercury that gives the stone its beautiful red coloring. Myrickite is a lapidary arts term that refers to agatized or opalized cinnabar. It is named after the prospector Francis Marion “Shady” Myrick who first discovered it in California’s Death Valley in 1911. It is very similar to Chinese Chicken Bloodstone in color, but myrickite is much harder than the cinnabar stained serpentine (Chicken Bloodstone). Both myrickite and Chicken Bloodstone are considered precious materials for carvings, chops and jewelry. But myrickite is rare, and to date, less than one ton has been found and used in art stones. Continue reading

Rare John Veevaert Collection of Benitoite at Rice Northwest Museum

Benitoite Cyclosilicate - Veevaert Collecton at Rice Northwest Rock and Mineral Museum2The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals is proud to announce the John Veevaert Collection of Benitoite will be on exhibit June 27th, 2012 until March 18, 2013. This is the first time a portion of the Veevaert collection has been on public exhibition.

Benitoite is a cyclosilicate. Cyclosilicates are also known as ring silicates because the silicate components in their structure are linked together in rings. Benitoite has hexagonal symmetry, so it can form perfect dipyramidal (double pyramids) crystals.

The name benitoite comes from San Benito County in California, where the first specimen was discovered in 1907. Benitoite is most commonly sapphire blue with hints of violet, but may sometimes occur as colorless, white, pink, reddish-brown or greenish-gray crystals. Benitoite is white when powdered (white streak), and has a vitreous luster. Its hardness ranges from 6 to 6.5 on Moh’s scale. It sometimes occurs as twinned specimens. It fluoresces bright blue in short-wave ultra-violet light. This has proved to be a particularly useful property for identifying benitoite when mining. Benitoite is commonly found with neptunite and natrolite. A relatively rare mineral, benitoite has been found in California, Arkansas, Montana, Czech Republic and Japan. Gem quality benitoite is only found in California. Benioite was declared California’s State Gem in 1985.

Benitoite cyclosilicate 1 - Veevaert Collecton at Rice Northwest Rock and Mineral MuseumThere are 55 specimens in the exhibit, representing only 20 percent of Veevaert’s entire collection, assembled during the past thirty-two years via field collecting and purchases.

There will be a variety of themes in the exhibition including the twinning of benitoite and neptunite, localities in addition to the Benitoite Gem mine (found in Japan, Arkansas, and California), four specimens showing the range of “straight from the mine” look to a finished specimen with stages in between, odd habits and rare crystal faces for benitoite, faceted benitoite and uncut gem rough, exceptional specimens, and an idealized wooden crystal model made in Germany.

Specimens in Veevaert’s collection range from micro-sized to some in excess of 30 cm, but those in the museum display average about 8 cm.

The museum is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 1-5PM. Members admission is free. Adults are $8, Seniors $7, Students under 17 are $6, and children 4 and under are free.

Special Malachite Lapidary Exhibit from Congo on Display

malachite carved face of woman - special exhibit at Rice Northwest Rock and Mineral MuseumWe are excited to feature some malachite lapidary work from the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) in our Lapidary Arts Room for only the month of March 2012. Make time to visit this rare and special collection at the Rice Northwest Rock and Mineral Museum.

malachite carved face - special exhibit at Rice Northwest Rock and Mineral MuseumOn loan from the Ziemer Family, the collection was built between 1975 and 1976 after Mr. Raymond Ziemer was given some pieces as a gift from a local tribe.

Carbonates are a group of minerals that contain the anion group CO32. They can be subdivided into the calcite, aragonite, dolomite or hydrated carbonate groups. The mineral malachite belongs in the hydrated (OH-bearing) carbonate group. It is a copper (Cu) bearing mineral and has the chemical formula Cu2CO3(OH)2. Continue reading