Anxiously Awaiting a New Museum Opening
Rock&Gem Magazine|February 2021
With the year 2021 upon us, Arizona collectors are certainly excited about the pending May opening of the University of Arizona Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum in downtown Tucson. Of course, the excitement extends beyond the border of Arizona and to far reaching locales around the globe.
BOB JONES

The University Museum collection has been housed in the lower level of the Flandrau Planetarium for over ten years. It is not easily accessible to the public, but soon will be. With the opening of the new Museum, not only will the collection be on well-documented display but will be joined by special mineral exhibits and educational galleries as part of a new concept in earth science mineral museums.

The new Museum will reside in a Spanish colonial mission-style building of 12,000 square feet in the heart of the world’s most famous mineral city. The renovation of the building includes all the required safety measures and handicap accessible elements.

I’m excited about this for many reasons, including that Professor Dr. Bob Downs, head of the University of Arizona Geoscience Department and other university staff, insisted that local experienced mineral collectors advise on this project. This decision took advantage of the collectors’ combined thousands of weeks of collecting experiences and vast knowledge of Arizona minerals and mines. The knowledge is invaluable, as the Museum plans include featuring the best of Arizona mining and minerals. Serving on the volunteer Advisory Group are Dr. Gene Meieran, Dr. Rob Lavinsky, Les Presmyk, Robbie McCarty, Dr. Peter Megaw, and my son Evan Jones. I know all of them well, and they are involved in the famous Tucson Gem and Mineral Show®.

Arizona mineral collectors also serve as the Museum Governing Board. The appointed board members include Chairman Paul Harder, Dick Graeme, former Bisbee Mines superintendent, Robbie McCarty, a teacher joined by experts in the jewelry and gem fields, for a well-balanced board. It is gratifying to know so many experienced mineral collectors are direct participants in the Museum’s growth and development. The appointment ensures the exhibits and educational programs are as complete, accurate, and wide-ranging as possible.

While the mineral displays and offerings will be plentiful and no doubt amazing, the Museum will also serve as an earth science educational experience for visitors, beginning with the introduction of mineral elements in space through their modern uses on Earth. Exhibits will demonstrate mineral formation and identification, including the use of minerals in industry. Completing the cycle will are displays depicting the use of gems to create lovely jewelry. To tell this four billion-year story of the Earth and its minerals, the Museum is divided into four related and continuous concept galleries; the Mineral Evolution Gallery, The Arizona Gallery, The Crystal Lab, and The Gem Gallery.

GETTING THE LAY OF THE MUSEUM

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