American Museum of Natural History. Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems.

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Exist Dates

1976 May 21 - 2017 October 26

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
Permanent exhibition Opened May 21, 1976 and closed October 26, 2017. Located in Section 8, Floor 1. The Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems at the American Museum of Natural History exhibited specimens from the Museum's collection of more than 100,000 gems and minerals and along with its companion hall, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals. It 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. The new gem and mineral halls directly replaced the old Morgan Memorial Hall of Minerals and Gems.

The Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems at the American Museum of Natural History exhibited specimens from the Museum's collection of more than 100,000 gems and minerals along with its companion hall, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals. It 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. The new gem and mineral halls directly replaced the old Morgan Memorial Hall of Minerals and Gems. D.M. Vincent Manson, consultant to the Museum’s Department of Mineral Sciences, was the curator for both halls, which were under the purview Museum’s Department of Mineral Science and Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (1, p. 14; 2; 3).

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’. They were, notably at the time of their opening, air-conditioned. The halls were designed to mimic a cave-like atmosphere and had earth-colored carpeting on both the floor and the walls. According to a 1976 Museum press release, the part of the purpose of the new gem and mineral halls “to display richness, variety and dramatic beauty of earth materials and to explain the properties of these materials, the profound subterranean forces that produced them, and their significance to human societies throughout history (3).”

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. (2)

The hall featured an array of precious and ornamental stones—uncut, polished, and gems in elaborate pieces of jewelry—as well as organic materials such as coral and amber that are prized as gems. The specimens in the hall were organized by mineral group, including diamond, sapphire and ruby, emerald and other beryls, opal, garnet, and many others. Rare and unusual gems, synthetic gemstones, and precious metals such as gold, platinum, and silver are also on display. Several exhibit cases featured decorative objects and jewelry spanning three millennia from various cultures (4).

Highlights included (4):

*The Star of India

*The Midnight Star

*The DeLong Ruby

*The Patricia Emerald

*A re-created gem pocket modeled after one found in the mountains of San Diego County, California in which pegmatite rock holds seven types of large crystals, including tourmaline, beryl, spodumene, quartz, and albite.

The Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals 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.

Sources

    (1) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1975/1976.
    (2) American Museum of Natural History. Press Release. "Fact Sheet: Hall of Minerals and Gems." April 23, 1976. DR 101 American Museum of Natural History Library.
    (3) American Museum of Natural History. Press Release. "American Museum of Natural History to Design All-New Halls of Gems and Minerals." October 2017.
    (4) American Museum of Natural History, "Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems." American Museum of Natural History, accessed March 28, 2017, http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/permanent-exhibitions/earth-and-planetary-sciences-halls/morgan-memorial-hall-of-gems

Chronology

  • 1968: Planning for new halls of minerals and gems begins
  • 1973 May: Construction begins on new halls.
  • 1976 May 21: Hall opens alongside Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals and Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites.
  • 2017 October 26: The Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems and the Harry Frank Guggenheim of Minerals close for renovations with plans to reopen as the Roberto and Allison Mignone Halls of Minerals and Gems.

Terms

place
New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 1, Section 8.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

American Gemstone Jewelry Collection (Exhibition)
associated dates: 1979 December 3-1980 January 27
American Museum of Natural History. Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites.
Opened at the same time as the Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals and the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems. Meteorites were also displayed in the former Morgan Memorial Hall of Minerals and Gems (approximately 1890-1974), which new halls of mineral and gems directly replaced.
American Museum of Natural History. Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
Related department
American Museum of Natural History. Department of Mineral Sciences.
Related department
American Museum of Natural History. Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals.
Companion hall
American Museum of Natural History. Morgan Memorial Hall of Minerals and Gems.
The Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals and the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems replaced the Morgan Memorial Hall of Minerals and Gems, which was open from approximately 1890-1974.
Arthur Ross FoundationExternal link
Sponsor of hall (2)
Cerro Fund and Corporation
Sponsor of hall (2)
Cook, Catherine
Sponsor of hall (2)
Exceptional Gems (Exhibition)
associated dates: 1983 October 14-1984 January 13
George F. Baker TrustExternal link
Sponsor of hall (2)
Harlow, George E.
Curator, Earth and Planetary Sciences
Harry Frank Guggenheim FoundationExternal link
Sponsor of hall (2)
Hohenlohe, Christian
Sponsor of hall (2)
Manson, D. M. Vincent
Department of Minerology, curator for hall (1, 1974/75, p. 20).
Middleton, Robert
New York State Council on the Arts Earth Science Intern, worked on exhibits in hall with D. Vincent Manson (1, 1974/75, p. 20).
Phelps Dodge Foundation
Sponsor of hall (2)
Schuberth, Christopher J.
Department of Education, worked on hall (1, 1971/72 p. 28).
St. Joe Minerals CorporationExternal link
Sponsor of hall (2)
Texas Gulf, Inc.External link
Sponsor of hall (2)
The Aurora Gem Collection and the Goldberg Collection (Exhibition)
associated dates: 1988 March 9-1989 April

Related Resources

American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History.
1967 (page 70); 1969 (page 29); 1970 (page 10, 30); 1971 (page 28); 1972 (page 7, 12); 1973 (page 21); 1974 (page 7, 20); 1975 (page 20); 1980 (page 2); 1983 (page 38, 58); 1985 (page 66); 1988 (page 7); 1990 (page 6); 2007 (page 31); 2010 (page 19)
American Museum of Natural History annual reports, 1902-2001.
Department of Mineralogy/Mineral Sciences/Earth and Planetary Sciences for years 1962-1963, 1967-1968, 1969-1970, 1972-1973, 1973-1974, 1974-1975, 1975-1976, 1977-1978, 1983-1984, 1993-1994, 1994-1995; Department of Exhibition and Graphic Arts for years 1967-1968, 1973-1974, 1975-1976
American Museum of Natural History. The Official Guide to the American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1984.
Page 59
American Museum of Natural History. Official Guide: Images from Around the American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1993.
Pages 6, 50
American Museum of Natural History. American Museum of Natural History: The Official Guide. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 2001.
Page 60
[American Museum of Natural History permanent hall posters] [poster]
Date of resource: [1975]-[2003]; MEM-FF-28
American Museum of Natural History press releases, 1933-1990s.
"Amethyst Lore is Focus of Minerals Exhibit at American Museum of Natural History." May 30, 1974; "Fact Sheet: Hall of Minerals and Gems." January 26, 1976/April 23, 1976; "Gemstones, Minerals Give Off Full Luster in Elegant New Exhibition Hall Opening at American Museum of Natural History." January 26, 1976/April 27, 1976; "Famous Diamonds Shine at Opening of New Hall of Minerals and Gems at American Museum of Natural History." April 23, 1976/May 12, 1976/May 21, 1976; Calendar of Events. May 1976; "American Museum’s ‘Best Friends’ to Remain through November; Flaming Star and Golden Hope are Added to Diamond Display in New Gem Hall." June 28, 1976; "Bicentennial Diamond Necklace Makes World Debut at American Museum of Natural History." July 12, 1976; "’The Story Diamonds’ Open at American Museum Feb. 11 Exhibition Includes Spectacular Collection of Naturally-Colored Diamonds." January 27, 1981; "Media Advisory: Three of World’s Most Spectacular Gems to Go on Display at American Museum." October 4, 1983; "’Forever Gold,’ New Video Presentation, Opens Here March 10." February 28, 1986; "Exhibit of Colored Diamonds to Open at Museum on March 9." March 4, 1988
American Museum of Natural History Special Collections photographic drawers
Repository: AMNH Special Collections [Black and white photo prints under Permanent Halls/“Gems and Minerals”]
American Museum of Natural History Special Collections vertical files
Repository: AMNH Special Collections [“Morgan Hall Background”; news articles; black and white photo prints]
Exhibition Tape Collection
Floor 6, Stack 6-39
subjectOf
Historic Halls of the American Museum of Natural History
Curated digital images of permanent halls in the American Museum of Natural History Library, Digital Special Collections.
subjectOf
Mainstreaming the visually handicapped in the Hall of Meteorites, Minerals & Gems at the American Museum of Natural History / by Richard P. Hulser.
Date of resource: 1979; vi, 59 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.; QH70.U52 N45 1979
The history of meteoritics and key meteorite collections : fireballs, falls and finds / edited by G.J.H. McCall, A.J. Bowden and R.J. Howarth.
Date of resource: 2006; vi, 513 p. : ill. (some col.), maps ; 26 cm; Geological Society special publication ; no. 256; QB755 .H57 2006
subjectOf
The Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems, The Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals. American Museum of Natural History Library Special Collections.
Date of resource: 1989; Two videocassettes for "Forever Gold", a video that displayed in the AMNH Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals and the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems. One audio reel called "Energy & minerals pulsed"; Identifier: EXH.034

Written by: Clare O'Dowd
Last modified: 2019 February 15


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