It has been a really busy summer in the Collections Department of the Cook Museum of Natural Science. Just a few weeks after my return from the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Specimens in Berlin, Germany, I was off again on July 28th with team members to the beautiful mountains of Franklin, North Carolina, known by the locals as “the Gem Capital of the World.”
Each summer gem and mineral dealers from all over the world set up in tent villages in Franklin, Spruce Pine, and surrounding areas. The CMNS team spent two long, full days carefully searching through their offerings to find just the right pieces to become part of the museum’s permanent collection. It was hot, it was dirty, it was exhausting, and it was fascinating. It was also loads of fun!
I am so excited about the choices that we made, and I don’t want to tell you all about them, because I want you to be surprised and amazed when you see them in the museum’s mineral exhibit. I will say, however, that a lot of thought was put into choosing pieces that were visually stunning in their color and shape, as well as pieces that were from well-known and important mining sites and collections.
Just as a teaser, I’ll tell you about one of our selections. Above pictured is a large, polished mineral specimen named malachite. Malachite is a fairly common mineral, actually, but we think it sure is pretty. It’s a copper carbonate mineral which means, in very general terms, it is associated with the breakdown, weathering, or oxidation of copper ore. This piece came from the Kalukuluku Mine, Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of Congo. Kalukuluku Mine was once named L’Etoile du Congo Mine (Star of the Congo) by the Belgians when they colonized the area in the early 1900s. Malachite has been mined for thousands of years and was valued as a green pigment for paints for centuries.
I can’t wait for you to see the rest!
Post written by: Cherry Johnson, Collections Manager
Cook Museum of Natural Science