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Written by: Sarah Timm
Monday January 27, 2014

This year the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH) made its first appearance at the Denver Gem and Mineral Show. This is the second largest gem and mineral show in the United States, bringing people from all around the world together for a few days to sell, shop, exhibit, and network. The main show for Denver is in the Denver Mart but there are many other shows happening at the same time.

The exhibits area of the Denver Mart is the area the public sees first. Though there are several private cases, many of the cases are filled with exhibits from geology clubs, societies, and museums. The museum exhibits are closest to the entrance and range from national museums, including the American Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian, to regional museums such as Sterling Hill and our own VMNH, and even some international museums which include the University of Wollongong in Australia. Since so many museum professionals attend these shows, the members of the Society of Mineral Museum Professionals (SMMP) host an event called “Meet the Curator” where each museum professional stands by their exhibit for a few hours to answer any questions the public might have on the exhibit or its museum.

DGMS Display Full

As the Geological Collections Specialist at VMNH, I designed the exhibit to fit the show’s theme “Tourmaline”. The mineral Tourmaline occurs in almost every color and may even show zones of different colors in the same crystal. The tourmalines in the VMNH exhibit spanned the color spectrum from bright green, to teal blue, to pale pink and the text panel discussed the various elements that cause each of these colors.

Sarah Timm DGMS

Since the Denver Gem and Mineral Show was such a success, VMNH will be taking the Tourmaline exhibit to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in February 2014. The Tucson show is the largest gem and mineral show in the United States. Like Denver, there is one main show accompanied by many other shows, but unlike Denver, you can’t count the number of shows on your fingers. Last year, there were over 40 different venues all open at the same time, and on the first day over 3,000 school children were invited (Denver caps their invitations at 1,500).

The Denver and Tucson Gem Shows are some of the most prestigious in the world and it is very exciting for VMNH to be a part of them.

Tags: Earth Science, Geology, Research and Collections, Tourmaline

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