Crocoite specimen

San Francisco (September 7, 2016)—Brilliant and beautiful, raw and refined—starting September 30, visitors to the California Academy of Sciences can explore the museum’s renowned gem and mineral collection in a whole new way. Featuring iconic pieces that play a vibrant part in the institution's history and newly-displayed geologic treasures, Gems and Minerals Unearthed will feature nearly 400 dazzling and diverse geologic specimens that showcase how these natural wonders have influenced ancient and modern cultures around the world. A dramatic native copper specimen will greet visitors as they ascend to the third floor gallery where jewel cases brimming with colorful minerals and gems await.

“The Academy’s minerals and gems have long been a visitor favorite and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase these specially curated pieces from our world-class geology collection in a fresh, modern way,” says Scott Moran, the Academy’s senior director of exhibits. “With each exhibit we develop, we’re continually looking for meaningful ways to share our incredible scientific collections with the public, and we hope this exhibit connects visitors with the critical role these minerals play in our lives everyday.”

From amethyst and azurite to silver and jade, visitors will marvel at the enormous diversity of colors, textures, and properties found in pieces both raw and refined. Going far beyond shimmer and shine, the exhibit will illustrate how geologic forces have shaped and reshaped our planet throughout Earth’s history, in the process creating an incredible array of minerals. Close-up views will illuminate how light interacts with minerals to create a dazzling array of colors and lusters and how fluorescent minerals glow under UV light. Visitors can run their hands over large, touchable specimens to examine their structure and view the many different angles and shapes of a giant crystal quartz cluster.

From the Stone Age to the Space Age, the exhibit will highlight how minerals have helped to advance civilizations, making modern devices like smartphones, solar panels, and satellites possible through use of rare earth elements. Displays will explore the essential—and often invisible—role that minerals play in our daily lives, used to make toothpaste, lipstick, and other household products. Visitors will also learn how minerals affect our own bodies, supplying essential elements from calcium and phosphorous that make bones and teeth strong to metals like zinc and copper that assist with chemical reactions that impact our blood pressure, immune system, metabolism, and more.

Featuring artifacts from the Academy’s anthropology collection, including jewelry and decorative objects from around the world, visitors will see the wide influence and use of gems and minerals in art, craft, and fashion, inspiring creativity and human ingenuity for centuries.

Gems and Minerals Unearthed is generously supported by the Estate of Helen von Ammon.

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