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Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall

New Mineral On Display

Ten years after a spectacular “alien eye” mineral was unearthed by a miner in Namibia, the enormous and intensely beautiful specimen – dubbed The Eyes of Africa – will make its debut in the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall. An unprecedented discovery that has garnered a cult-like following in the mineral-collecting community, the 2-foot-tall mineral is not only rare and mesmerizing, but the story – and 10-year journey – behind its discovery is unusual and intriguing.

Head miner and Namibian local Herold Gariseb, along with his men, were the first to come across the spectacular specimen found in the Alien Eye pocket. Gariseb immediately knew The Eyes of Africa was the “prize of the pocket” and determined it was too special for immediate release, despite high demand for these minerals. Not only was it the largest of all known specimens, but it had the highest quantity of Alien Eye flourites from that pocket. Instead of going straight to market, he stowed it away in the trunk of his white Mercedes, and it went with him everywhere. As word got around, the white Mercedes became the White Whale for collectors, including Mark Kielbaso and Jurgen Tron who ventured for days looking for the infamous mineral-toting Mercedes. After finding Gariseb, they immediately made a deal to acquire The Eyes of Africa and ended up purchasing 400 diapers to protect and ship the precious piece! Lyda Hill later acquired the mineral and, by offering it to the Perot Museum, will allow millions of children and adults to experience its wonder and beauty.

Natural brilliance

Gems and minerals not only serve as the building blocks of our planet — many of them also happen to shimmer, sparkle and glow! Explore both the practical and beautiful aspects of these complex structures.

From the outside, the 5-foot geode in our Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall looks like any other big rock. But when you turn a wheel to reveal the colorful crystals inside, it’s easy to see what makes mineral crystals and gemstones so highly prized by collectors, jewelers and scientists alike.

With high-definition videos, digital puzzles and touchable specimens to explore, you’ll discover the astounding variety of colors, shapes and hardnesses of Earth’s original rock stars. From the gleaming luster of “fool’s gold” to the ultraviolet glow of fluorescent minerals, your next stunning scientific observation is as close as a visit to the Perot Museum! Delve into the science behind the beauty as you explore these and other concepts:

Birth of a Crystal

Where do crystals come from, and how do they form? Find the answers to these and other questions as you:

  • View a vivid high-definition film introducing natural mineral crystals
  • Examine mineral specimens collected from all over the world
  • Observe time-lapse video showing the growth of various minerals
  • Survey crystals in their “natural habitat” — a hollow pocket in solid rock
  • Open a geode to reveal the crystals inside

Mineral Properties

Different minerals possess a broad range of properties. Discover the details that set them apart by:

  • Using a touchscreen to explore the physical and optical properties of various minerals
  • Comparing different minerals at our hands-on touch table
  • Learning about scratch testing and the Mohs hardness scale 
  • Seeing minerals in a different light, as some take on vibrant hues under ultraviolet bulbs
  • Exploring how sulfur and salty brine, considered contaminants in crude oil, also form crystals that are highly prized by collectors