1976 May 21 - 2017 October 26
The Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals at the American Museum of Natural History opened as part of a three-part exhibition with the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites and the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems on May 21, 1976 (1, 1975/76 p. 20); the latter two of which replaced the old Morgan Memorial Hall of Minerals and Gems (1, 1969/70 p. 29). Construction began in May 1973 and the three halls opened on May 21, 1976. The Guggenheim hall, along with the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems, emphasize the necessity for people to scale their desire for and use of minerals and other resources to the world's finite supply (1, 1973/74, p. 21) The curators of the Hall of Minerals were D.M. Vincent Manson from Minerology with the assistance of Robert Middleton of the New York State Council on the Arts Earth Science (1, 1974/75, p. 20) and with contributions from Christopher J. Schuberth of the Department of Education. Planning for the gem and mineral halls began in 1968 and construction began in May 1973. The new Morgan Hall and the Guggenheim Hall occupied a space on the first floor that measured 65’ x 160’ (5). The gem and mineral halls were designed to mimic a cave-like atmosphere and had earth-colored carpeting on both the floor and the walls. The hall was used not only for permanent collections but for temporary exhibits on related topics (1, 1979/80, p. 33).
Sponsors for the building of the hall were the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, George F. Baker Trust, the Cerro Fund and Corporation, Mrs. Catherine Cook, Christian Hohenlohe, the Phelps Dodge Foundation, the Arthur Ross Foundation, St. Joe Minerals Corporation, and Texas Gulf, Inc. (4).
The new halls, while very different in presentation, exhibited many of the same specimens as the original Morgan Hall of Minerals and Gems, including William Boyce Thompson collection of minerals in the Guggenheim hall. (1,1974/75, p. 4).
Major subject treated in the hall were (5):
*The properties of minerals
*Interaction of minerals and energy
A sequence of cases on one side of the hall presented the system of classifying minerals based on chemical composition such as native elements, oxides, silicates, and others, with examples displayed. Additional cases were devoted to esthetic minerals, large specimens, geodes, and microminerals. At the center of the hall, one section depicted the chemical, physical, optical, and other properties of minerals, and another demonstrated the eight environments in which minerals form (2)
Highlights included (1, 1985/86, p. 36; 2):
*Giant topaz from Brazil
*4.5-ton block of azurite-malachite ore from Arizona
*Nephrite jade slab from Poland
*Newmont Azurite from Namibia
*California gold specimens, including crystallized gold, gold dust, and gold leaves from the Sierra Nevada range and paraphernalia of mining and assaying from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
*"Forever Gold," a film narrated by George Plimpton in a dedicated theater
The Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals and the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems closed on October 26, 2017 to be replaced by the Roberto and Allison Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals (3).
This is a condensed summary of the exhibition. For additional information, see Sources and/or Related Resources.
Content negotiation supports the following types: