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A 13-foot-tall, sparkling amethyst geode from Uruguay—one of the world’s largest—was unveiled today at the Museum during an event to announce that the Halls of Gems and Minerals will undergo a complete redesign to transform the 11,000-square-foot space into a gleaming showcase for its world-renowned collection.
The redesigned halls will be named for Roberto and Allison Mignone, long-standing Museum supporters and volunteers. Roberto Mignone currently serves as a Museum Trustee, and Allison Mignone is the Vice Chair of the Museum's Campaign.
In addition to the 13-foot-tall geode, the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals will feature several other large-scale specimens and redesigned exhibits that will tell the story of how approximately 4,500 minerals arose on our dynamic planet, how geologists classify them, and how humans have shaped them into gems and used them throughout history for personal adornment, tools, and technology.
A dramatic feature of the new Halls will be a stunning Crystalline Pass on the north side, which will be a link to the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation.
In addition to the amethyst geode now on view in the Grand Gallery, specimens in the new hall will also include a second, 9-foot-tall amethyst geode and a massive panel of fluorescent rock, which will be the centerpiece of a new fluorescence and phosphorescence gallery. Other special galleries will include a gem gallery and a space for rotating exhibitions.
Favorites from the current galleries and from the Museum’s collections—such as the Star of India blue sapphire, the 632-carat Patricia Emerald, and the so-called "subway garnet"—will return to view in the new Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals.
Along with the multi-year project to update, restore, and conserve the Northwest Coast Hall, which was announced last month, the renovation of the Halls of Gems and Minerals is part of a series of physical and programmatic enhancements to historic parts of the institution leading up to its 150th anniversary and the opening of the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation.
The 13-foot-tall amethyst geode will remain on view in the Grand Gallery throughout the 2017 holiday season. Construction on the new Mignone Halls of Gems of Minerals will begin with the closure of the current halls on October 26.