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A rare triplet of bi-colored black and white calcite balls from the Herja Mine in the Maramures District of Romania. Below it is rose-colored rhodochrosite on white quartz from the same area.

A Gem of a Find

There's plenty new--and old—at Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems                                      


As a showcase for some of the most spectacular mineral specimens to be seen anywhere, Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems does not regularly transform its displays—but it does change, and mineral lovers are quick to note an “upgrade” or new specimens on exhibit. 


Section Head Marc Wilson is an experienced collector of top-level specimens, and working with the committed support of the Hillman Foundation, he travels to mineralogical shows and to mining regions in far parts of the globe, to discover and bring back outstanding specimens for Pittsburgh.  Experts and specimen vendors who are friends of the museum, knowing Hillman Hall seeks the best examples, send newly discovered or newly available specimens for inspection, before they go on the open market.


Recently, an active part of the world for the Section of Minerals has been northern Romania, where outstanding specimens are being produced from the classic Maramures District.  Wilson has acquired spectacular Romanian mineral specimens for display in the “Systematic Collection” exhibits.  The Maramures District, which until recently was under communist control with restricted access, has been an important mining region since Roman times.


One such specimen is the famous example of a triplet of bi-colored black and white balls of calcite from the Herja Mine.  Such mineral specimens are extremely rare, and were formed under unusual conditions over tens of thousands of years.  Another example from Cavnic is of rose colored rhodochrosite on white quartz.  Both specimens can be seen in the Systematic Collection —the mirrored display at the far end of Hillman Hall.   You can also see a spectacular new and large specimen of purple fluorite crystals on white quartz in the “Masterpiece Gallery.”  It was added to the Masterpiece displays in early 2003.



March 1, 2003 - May 25, 2003


A personal exploration of nature in the tropics by master photographer, storyteller, and naturalist Frans Lanting.  His images from the past 20 years on several continents depict jungles from the lowlands of the Congo to the cloud forests of the Andes.  A tropical rainforest is a realm of bewildering complexity where nothing is the way it first appears.  Lansing says, "While the essence of photography is to show, jungles hide, or at best suggest.  So I opted to show impressions of jungles to evoke a sense of their kaleidoscopic nature--the glimpses of faces that melt into the shadows, the bursts of color and shimmering light."


Produced as an exhibit by Naturalis, the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden, The Netherlands, Jungles continued toured in Europe before coming to  the United States.

Museum honors recent retirees

Paleontologist Mary Dawson 


Mary Dawson, the well-known curator of vertebrate paleontology at Carnegie Museum of Natural History for three decades, officially retired on January 3, 2003.


But she continues her scientific work at the museum as a volunteer.  "I think we're likely to see her productivity actually increase," said K. Christopher Beard, who assumed her role as chief of the museum's Vertebrate Paleontology Section.


Last year, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology awarded Dawson the A.S. Romer-G.G. Simpson Medal, the group's highest honor.  During Dawson's years at the museum

Vertebrate Paleontology grew from a small group of researchers to one of the largest, if not the largest, in the United States."  On staff are "10 full-time staff members, including four doctorate-level researchers," says Beard. "That's largely due to Mary's leadership."

Staff Archeologist Richard George

Dick George has been excavating sites in the Upper Ohio Valley for the Section of Anthropology since 1967. During his 35 years with the museum, he explored many artifact-rich sites destined to be destroyed by future development, and one such site proved to be the first complete village of the Monongahela people ever documented. Although officially retired at the end of 2002, he will continue to work as a volunteer in the Section of Anthroplogy.

Collection Manager Elizabeth Hill                                       

The collection manager of the Section of Vertebrate Paleontology, Betty Hill, also retired at the beginning of 2003, after 28 years of association with the museum.  Her responsibility was managing the important "VP" collection of some 150,000 individual specimens, including dinosaur fossils.  Through the years, Betty showcased the collection area to thousands of people, especially during Open House Events, in addition to the visiting scientists from around the world who come regularly to Pittsburgh to analyze specimens.  Betty will continue to work with collection records as a volunteer.




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