The one with all the sparkle

Lyda Hill

Gems and Minerals Hall

Good for

All Ages


Level 3

Brain Juice Focus

Gems and Minerals

Gaze at natural beauty

Your eyes will be amazed by Earth’s original rock stars as they glisten, glimmer and glow. Explore both the practical and beautiful aspects of these complex structures that serve as the building blocks of our planet. High-definition videos, digital puzzles, and touchable specimens will help you discover the astounding variety of colors, shapes, and configurations of minerals found across the globe.

The Year of Mineralogy

April 27, 2022 – April 24, 2023

The International Mineralogical Association has chosen 2022 as a worldwide celebration of the history, development and study of mineralogy. The goal of this yearlong event is to promote public interest in mineral studies by showing how this field has guided the growth of both technology and society. By understanding mineral characteristics, we are able to find solutions to many modern industrial problems and improve our overall well-being. Showcasing amazing minerals, this exhibit represents only some of their properties – there is so much more to discover.

The Lapis Lazuli (pictured above - front center) is made up of minerals including pyrite, lazurite, and calcite (pictured in background).
Don't Miss!
A view of large crystal photos.

A 5-foot-tall geode filled with shimmering purple crystals

Crack open a giant geode and discover the extraordinary beauty that can be hidden inside an ordinary looking rock! Look closely — amongst all of the mesmerizing purple are specs of white calcite.

Look closely – amongst all the mesmerizing purple are white calcite crystals. The Grape Jelly Amethyst Geode was the very first exhibit installed at the Museum – the gallery was quite literally built around it!

The Eyes of Africa and its backstory that includes diapers and a white Mercedes

Discovered by Herold Gariseb in the Erongo Region of Namibia, this two foot tall specimen of quartz (white) and fluorite (green) had an interesting beginning. When the miner realized his discovery was incredibly rare, rather than sell it right away, he drove it around in the trunk of his white Mercedes Benz. As word spread, two collectors spent days searching for the infamous miner and his car. Once found, a deal was made to acquire the piece and ship it back to the U.S. wrapped in 400 baby diapers placed in a plastic barrel inside a steel drum!

A colorful Ammonite donated to the Museum by the Lavinsky Family

Ammonites are a type of shelled cephalopod that went extinct about 66 million years ago. Although ammonite fossils are discovered all over the world, colorful specimens such as this one can only been found on the eastern slopes of the North American Rocky Mountains, in particular the Bearpaw Formation in Alberta, Canada. Although the play-of-color may look similar to opal, it is actually more closely related to pearl! An iridescent layer of nacre, made up of the mineral aragonite, coats the top of the fossil. In the gem trade this is known as ammolite, and is sometimes cut off the fossil and set in jewelry.  This specimen measures almost 2 feet in diameter!

Two exquisite and rare gold pieces originally unearthed in Australia with a combined weight of more than 110 pounds

The larger of the two pieces – dubbed the Dragon’s Lair (right) – tips the scales at 63 pounds making it one of the largest and most remarkable specimens to come out of the richest gold finds in Western Australia.  Its smaller lustrous companion – known as the Ausrox Nugget – weighs in at a whopping 51.29 pounds and is about the size of a basketball.  Three miners armed with a metal detector and small tractor discovered Ausrox in the Eastern Goldfields of Australia.

A 5-foot-tall geode filled with shimmering purple crystals

The Eyes of Africa and its interesting backstory

The Lavinsky Ammonite

Two of the world's largest pieces of gold

Gems and Minerals Hall Scavenger Hunt

  • We have specimens from six of the seven continents — can you find a gem from each?
  • Find our newest gem, The Eyes of Africa, and ask one of our helpful Museum volunteers about its unique history!
  • Our specimens are constantly changing, so there’s always something new to see! Can you find a specimen of every color of the rainbow?

What to do next

Since you appreciate the beauty of a polished gem, step out into the Dynamic Earth Hall and discover our world in a different natural form. Learn all about Earth’s history as you visualize how the continents have shifted over millions of years, understand geological dating techniques used by scientists, and see water and air in new ways.

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