Wulfenite Specimens Prepared for Spotlight at the Tucson Show

Rice NW Museum is getting prepped and ready to exhibit at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in February. In keeping with the show’s theme this year, the Rice NW Museum will be displaying some of its finest wulfenite specimens. Curator Julian Gray began planning the case layout months ago, and he has been working with volunteer Angela Piller to prepare. They teamed up to assess which specimens can travel safely, which ones look best next to each other, and which pieces tell a compelling story on display.

Curator Julian Gray, left and volunteer Angela Piller chose the wulfenite specimens for travel

The museum has more than a dozen top wulfenite specimens, in a surprising variety of colors and shapes. If you’re not familiar with this mineral, wulfenite is a lead molybdate, with a chemical formula of PbMoO4. Unlike other lead or molybdenum minerals, which are usually gray, wulfenite can be orange, yellow, red, and other colors. Wulfenite most commonly forms in thin, square crystals that are sometimes quite lustrous. According to Mindat.org, wulfenite is “a secondary mineral typically found as thin tabular crystals with a bright orange-red, yellow-orange, yellow or yellowish grey color in the oxidized zones of hydrothermal lead deposits.” Primary minerals are generally sulfide minerals like pyrite (iron sulfide) or galena (lead sulfide). Corrosive ground water reacts with primary minerals forming new, more exotic secondary minerals such as wulfenite, which is highly sought by mineral collectors.

Wulfenite occurs in a variety of colors, and was a great choice for this year’s show theme.

To prepare for the move, the curating team donned their protective gloves and got to work. They removed top candidates from the display case in the Main Gallery and assembled the proposed display on a table, where they could mix and match and evaluate specimen heights and sizes. Once they were satisfied with the plan, they began boxing up the materials carefully with bubble-wrap and other precautions for the move.

Packaging for the move is an important consideration; some of the best specimens were judged too fragile to transport and will remain on display.

The final step is to carefully shift around the remaining specimens in the case to avoid any obvious holes. Keen-eyed visitors who know the collection intimately will spot the changes, but some of the top specimens in the collection are deemed too fragile to move and won’t be making the trip.

The final step is to rearrange the specimens still on display to avoid obvious gaps or holes.

The specimens will return and be back on display by the end of February.

Tucson is one of the most exciting times of year and places to go shopping for the museum collection and new museum store stock, so stay tuned to see what new acquisitions Julian brings back!

New Cases Arrive to Hold Upcoming Spann Exhibit

Noted mineral collectors Jim and Gail Spann of Dallas, Texas, have generously agreed to loan the Museum a selection of about 75 of their finest mineral specimens for one year, starting on March 23, 2019. The loaned minerals were selected from the Spann’s personal collection of more that 15,000 minerals. To properly display the care for and exhibit such an important new collection, the Museum has been working hard behind the scenes.

For example, the Museum recently acquired two new cases to hold the gems and minerals. These cases were built by It’s West Display and Lighting of Golden, Colorado, to the museum’s specification. The cases use state of the art LED lighting that will show off the Spann minerals – each case has more that 50 lights! When the cases arrived in Portland they were moved to our facility thanks to a pair of experienced ‘case wranglers’ from All Service Moving.

The two new cases were securely shipped in wooden “coffins” and strapped to a pallet.

After removal from their shipping containers, the 500 pound cases were moved individually to the Main Gallery in the basement of the Museum. This involved strenuous use of straps, a few raised voices, and considerable care to get down the long flight of stairs, but the professionals handled the move without incident.

The second case makes it safely down the stairs.

Once the cases are completely unwrapped and powered up, Curator Julian Gray will work with Jim and Gail Spann to perform the happy task of planning the layout for the exhibit.

Watch this space…

The international range of the specimens we plan to exhibit is impressive – you’ll see material that originated in Uraguay, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Brazil, and China, to name a few. Mark your calendars – March 23, 2019 through February 2020 – this exhibit is sure to draw a crowd!

Plumbogummite from China (photo courtesy of Gail Copus Spann)

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!

 

2018 Rice Museum Benefit Dinner & Silent Auction

Event Phone: 503-647-2418

The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks & Minerals is hosting a benefit dinner. Please join us July 14, 2018 at 5:00 PM as we honor Mary and the late Dennis Murphy for their contributions and many years of support of the Rice Museum. Dr. Terry Wallace, Director of Los Alamos National (more…)


Mystery Mineral Day- February 24, 2018!

Mystery Mineral Day is happening Saturday, February 24, 2018 from 10 AM to 2 PM at the museum.

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A participant at Mystery Mineral Day 2017 had her treasures identified by Bruce.

A panel of experts will be ready and waiting for you to bring your unknown rocks, minerals, fossils, gems, and potential meteorites for identification.

Have you always wondered what to call that cool crystal you picked up on a hike that one day? Did you inherit a collection, but it’s missing some labels? Do you think you may have found a fossil bone or a rock from outer space? Our experts are volunteering at this event just for you, so don’t be shy. Come on by!

 

This event is included with general admission. Admission is $12.00 for adults, $10.00 for seniors, and $8.00 for students (ages 5-17) and veterans/active military. Children 4 and under are free.

Summer Festival is Back!

Our 14th annual Summer Fest 2017 will be at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals Saturday and Sunday, August 5-6, 2017. The hours are 10 AM – 5 PM. Admission is $5 for everyone ages 5 and up!

Summer Festival Full Page Flyer

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!