Museum Kicks Off Gem Hall Renovation with 9,000 Pounds of Wow

By Carol Tannenhauser

The museum known for its towering dinosaurs now has a rock that would even impress T-Rex.

Fourth graders from PS 87 attested to that when they witnessed the unveiling yesterday of a truly gasp-inducing recent acquisition of the Museum of Natural History. Discovered in Uruguay, standing 12 feet tall and weighing more than 9,000 pounds, it is one of the largest amethyst geodes in the world.

“It’s really awesome…It’s amazing…It’s so beautiful,” the kids affirmed. One girl added, “I wonder how they, like, found it and cut it open?”

That kind of curiosity is what the museum is hoping to inspire and satisfy as it undertakes a complete redesign and update of its Halls of Gems and Minerals, set to begin on October 26 (so, if you want to see the old halls one last time, you better go now).

You can also see the geode, which will remain in the Museum’s Grand Gallery through the 2017 holiday season. It will reappear in 2019 as one of the centerpieces of the new Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, named for the project’s lead supporters. Ralph Applebaum Associates will be the designer.


The kids from PS 87, with two members of the Mignone family.

“How many of us enjoyed the great pleasure and fascination of collecting rocks as a child?” asked Ellen V. Futter, president of the Museum. “I know I did.”

Futter now presides over one of the greatest “rock collections” of all time.

“The American Museum of Natural History is known for having one of the most spectacular and comprehensive collections of gems and minerals in the world,” she said. “[The redesign] will highlight these specimens in new exhibits illuminating the latest scientific thinking and revealing the beauty of objects from cultures around the globe.”


Curator of Physical Sciences George E. Harlow describes some of the specimens that will be displayed in the new Halls of Gems and Minerals.

Elements currently planned for the Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, according to a press release from the Museum, include:

The Halls of Gems and Minerals is the second major renovation project announced by the Museum in as many weeks. The Northwest Coast Hall is also being redone, Futter said, “as part of the physical and programmatic enhancements we are making as we look toward our milestone 150th anniversary in 2019.”

Photos by Carol Tannenhauser.

NEWS | 8 comments | permalink
    1. Jess says:

      This is my favorite place in the museum – dating back to childhood!

      The place has clearly needed a renovation for years now – so glad its happening!

    2. Rob G. says:

      The museum is truly a “gem” for our neighborhood and it’s good to see some positive coverage by West Side Rag. Frankly I was getting tired of reading about all those crazy protesters.

    3. Chase says:

      that museum is so boring but the energy in those crystals, like, oh mah gawd.

    4. ST says:

      It may be Wow. But the museum’s expansion into Teddy Roosevelt Park is still corrupt. That too is Wow.

      • EricaC says:

        I can understand disagreeing with the expansion – though I do not – but how is it “corrupt”?

        • It is corrupt because the museum spent millions of dollars ‘lobbying’ our elected officials to allocate tens of mullions of our tax dollars for the expansion. However,when the public hearing on the proposal was finally held in June, none of these public servants attended to hear the public.

          The stench of corruption also extends to the museum’s decision to use fossil fuel to run their proposal. The fuel would be purchased from Con Ed where the museum’s President, Ellen Futter, serves as a corporate director.

          Is this now clear?

          • Jay says:

            Nope. Not clear.

            Tell us… you wanted to move the museum the Bronx, right? Isn’t that where you are the director of a business improvement district?

            Perhaps you shouldn’t throw stones, Cary.

    5. Robbi LaBelle says:

      My granddaughter certainly seems to be enjoying this experience. So glad you are fostering her development of an excitement in learning.