Time is running out to see the Spann Exhibit

Don’t miss out – our exhibit of the worldwide collection of fine minerals owned by Gail and Jim Spann will be leaving in a few short months.

Thousands of people have already been wowed by this exhibit, but if you haven’t seen the it yet you should make plans soon. This spectacular display of world-class specimens will only be at the museum until January 20, 2020. That means in five short months they’ll be headed home to Texas.

Until then, you still have time to check them out. Here’s a few favorites

Photo of some of the Gail and Jim Spann collection

Blue Cap Tourmaline

One of only abut 35 museum-grade specimens in the world from the famous “Blue-Cap Pocket”, this giant is one of the best representatives you’ll ever see of pink elbaite tourmaline with a blue cap top. Hailing from the famed Pala-area mines of San Diego, it has splendid color zoning.

The Blue Cap Pocket was unearthed in late December, 1972 and is the most famous tourmaline pocket in U.S. history. Collectors consider the pocket with an almost reverent respect. Only under 100 pieces were found, of any quality. This is one of the top specimens, and stands front and center in the display.

Blue cap tourmaline from the Gail and Jim Spann Collection

Rose Quartz crystal ring

Rose quartz is uncommon in a crystal habit, and it’s even more rare to find it circling a pristine quartz crystal like this. The girdle of crystalline rose quartz is striking, and gives the specimen a striking look. Some call this a “Friar Tuck” display. This specimen is from Lavra da Ilha, a granite pegmatite on a small island north of Taquaral in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The bright luster and rich pink color are rare, and provide a striking contrast to the crystalline quartz it adorns.

Rose quartz ring around a quartz crystal

Malachite “Sorcerer’s Hat” Stalagmite

This striking ‘finger’ of malachite sits atop a plate of similar malachite, giving it the appearance of a tall witch hat, according to the many Harry Potter fans who have seen it here. Found at the L’Etolle du Congo (the “Star of Congo”) mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it has a slightly drusy, or sparkly exterior. The whimsical nature of the piece draws remarks from crowds, as the taper at the top is unique from most malachite specimens that formed as stalactites and stalagmites. It shows no surface bruising that is common to similar specimens, and is dramatic even in an unpolished state.

Malachite stalagmite

Hematite, Horse Tooth Habit

This specimen was the elegant star of our promotional poster back in March. The dramatic edges, striated surfaces, and shiny luster are typical of this form of hematite, which is usually found in rounded, botryoidal masses or red, rusty chunks. Typical of a Morocco hematite, it is lustrous and almost appears sculpted, but it is completely natural.

Horsetooth hematite

These are a few of the nearly eighty amazing specimens from the collection of Gail and Jim Spann. The exhibit can be viewed during normal hours of operation and there is no additional charge for this rare opportunity.

Garage Sale this Friday and Saturday – Bring Your Own Bucket

Be sure to visit us for our upcoming Garage Sale August 30-31, 2019 and scoop up some amazing bargains by the pound. We are overrun with donated material from local rockhounds, and we are running out of storage space. This material is priced to sell! The rough lapidary material and yard rocks are at especially attractive prices.

We’re hoping to declutter the storage area and reduce the inventory we’ve accumulated not just this summer, but over the years. At a similar event for Memorial Day earlier this year, many of you suggested we should do another one – so here it is!

2019 Aug Garage Sale

This time we’ve got some interesting material we picked up from multiple sources. First and foremost, we’ve got excess zeolites from the late Rudy Tschernich, our former curator and author of “Zeolites of the World.” The museum hosts some of the finest zeolite specimens anywhere on display in the Northwest Gallery, but if you knew Rudy, you can imagine we have tons more from some of the best zeolite localities known, including Robertson Pit in Washington, the Goble area in northwest Oregon, countless basalt quarries in western Oregon, and even a few from India and Europe.

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Zeolites from Succor Creek and Rickreall, from the collection of Rudy Tschernich.

Rudy’s definitive book is available for free download as a PDF. By the time he retired, Rudy donated over 13,000 zeolites to the museum, and we probably have the finest collection anywhere. There are countless duplicates, however, so we’ve made about 100 available for sale this year.

In addition, super-volunteer Linda Harvey journeyed north to tackle famed mineral collector Bob Jackson’s storage area, where she picked up pounds of Spruce Ridge material. Bob’s claim up near Snoqualmie Pass in Washington has yielded amazing clusters of nicely terminated quartz crystals, with large pyrite crystals interspersed.

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Spruce Ridge quartz and pyrite plate from the collection of Bob Jackson.

Some of the clusters offered for sale will need to be cleaned; museum staff manning the garage sale can provide you with tips on the right kitchen chemicals to use.

On top of all that, we have taken in a few hundred pounds of material collected from the Nehalem River. This material includes a fine red jasper and some interesting agate.

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Quartz, jasper and agate from the lower Nehalem River.

Some drop by, bring a bucket, and go home with some interesting pieces. You’ll be supporting the museum and snagging some great collectibles.

Mystery Mineral Day II

If you collected some strange rocks over the summer, bring them in Saturday, August 24 from 10:00 to 2:00 to see if you can stump the experts. We’ll have several geologists, mineralogists, and rockhounds available to identify your finds. Or, if you’ve been wondering what the heck that strange rock is that you think might be a meteorite, now’s the time to get it checked.

Remember, all you need is a paid admission to the museum to participate. While you’re here, be sure to check the Spann Exhibit, the Snook Exhibit, and the “Brilliance of Trilliants” exhibit – all three went up since the first Mystery Mineral Day of the year back in February.

2019 MMD August FB Event Banner

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…)