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museums New York City reviews

Top 3 Halls of Minerals

Here in NYC, we are in the middle of a 3-year renovation of the Hall of Minerals and Gems at the American Museum of Natural History  No need to go into crystal withdrawal - there are plenty of other amazing places to go.

My Personal Top 3 Halls of Minerals in the United States

We are in the middle of a 3-year renovation of the Hall of Minerals and Gems at the American Museum of Natural History. As the most well-known mineral and gem hall in the USA, this museum is a must see just for the Star of India sapphire and the Patricia emerald. Only a fraction of the museum's vast collection has ever been on display at any given time, so the expanded area for the exhibits will mean more gems and minerals to marvel at. The renderings show a modern, clean looking space, which will be a big change from the dark, womblike way many crystal museum exhibits are designed.  To get your fix until they unveil the new exhibits in 2020 (fingers crossed), here are my personal top 3 mineral and gem museums.

  1. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems, Pittsburgh, PA

The Hall of Minerals and Gems at Carnegie Museum is definitely a ‘hidden gem’!  If you go during the week, you might have the whole place to yourself.  With a mineral collection that rivals the breadth of the AMNH in NYC, it’s a totally unique  experience to enjoy a collection like this without thousands of other tourists.  If you like the classic displays of minerals and gems in glass cases this is the place for you.  Some of the coolest exhibits are the ones on fluorescence and phosphorescence, where you can control the various types of light and see how different crystals react to different energies and wavelengths of light.  Pretty amazing for rocks that have been buried far from the surface of the earth for millions or billions of years.

  1. Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History David Friend Hall, New Haven, CT

Yale David Friend Hall

The Yale mineral hall isn’t the biggest space out there, but what it lacks in size of the display it makes up for in the size and quality of the crystals on display here.  The space is kept dark and the spotlights focus your eyes on all the specimens, with the focal point being one of the largest single quartz crystals in the world, which you can touch as much as you want (this is a key draw for me). While the Carnegie collection has a more scientific bent, showing minerals and crystals that have strange formations and are potentially useful for science or industry, the Yale collection makes it clear that the donor, David Friend, is a true visual collector, after my own heart. Some of the specimens here were clearly chosen with an art collector’s eye, with some of the best aesthetically balanced crystals I’ve ever seen, with mother nature as the sculptor.

  1. Houston Museum of Natural Science Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, Houston, TX

In true Texas style, we’re here for the over-the-top precious gems. The highlights of this collection are the raw and uncut emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, and the Smith Gem Vault with amazing pieces of jewelry and cut gemstones. Unlike other, more historically focused gem collections, a lot of the jewelry on display are designed by contemporary jewelers with display in mind, to showcase the size and clarity of the gems in their collection. Don’t miss the wonderful gold and crystal formations they have in the main room, including a massive 2700 carat opal.

Of course, nothing matches having your own crystal hoard at home - click here to shop our collections.


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