By Lauren D’Ambra
The Mines Museum of Earth and Science has been a staple of Mines culture for as long as most Mines students and faculty can remember. Located in the Mines General Research Lab Annex, the museum has a rotating collection of over 40,000 gems, minerals, mining artifacts, and more. The collection dates back as far as 1874 with Arthur Lakes’ original education materials and has since grown to incorporate geological artifacts from Colorado, the US, and the world.
Presently, the Mines Museum is undergoing a series of exciting renovations to help make an even more incredible museum experience (which is saying something because the museum is already absolutely fantastic). Renata Lafler, the executive director of the museum was kind enough to take The Oredigger behind the scenes and show us some of the ongoing renovations. Currently, the entire lower floor of the museum is under construction. “The bottom floor will be divided into themed sections,” explained Lafler. “We’ll have a space section, a paleontology section, a new exhibit about oil production and hydraulic fracturing, as well as our normal fluorescent minerals exhibit”. The museum is also planning to place a permanent manned station on the lower floor that will help service group tours and provide activities for children.
All of these renovations may seem intense, but the Mines Museum is no stranger to change; the museum is constantly switching out its exhibits so that everything in its massive collection has the chance to be seen. The museum also recently redesigned its gift shop and moved it to the top floor. Another recent, but less noticeable, change the museum underwent involves the Miss Colorado Pageant Crown. The crown, with its gorgeous 613 gemstones, has been on display in the museum since 2013 and was officially donated to the Mines Museum back in 2019-2020.
Those who have visited the Mines Museum before will remember that the lower level used to contain displays of fossils, dinosaur bones, and the two Moon rocks Mines received from the Apollo 17 mission. Worry not, these fantastic exhibits aren’t going away! The moon rocks will continue to be on display in the new space section. The partial femur of an Apatosaurus will also be back on display, along with a 3D printed reconstruction of the entire bone for guests to measure themselves against. Lafler is very excited about the new exhibit going in: Destination Niobrara. “It’s going to have components that we don’t have anywhere else in the museum,” Lafler told The Oredigger. “I can’t wait for people to come in and see it!”
We asked Lafler what her most favorite museum exhibits are and she gave some fantastic answers. “I have a thing for Arizona minerals. There is a mineral upstairs with Azurite, Malachite, and Gypsum that’s on the cover of a textbook. It’s my favorite piece in the whole place!”. Lafler is also very excited for the Destination Niobrara exhibit and highly recommends the fluorescent minerals exhibit, as it is one of the museum’s most popular attractions.
The Mines Museum services more than just the Mines community, it also plays a key role in Golden as well as the whole of Colorado. The Mines Museum is one of the most popular attractions on Golden and is well known by both casual viewers and geological experts. On top of this, the museum frequently hosts outreach events with the Denver Gem and Mineral Show, providing even more learning opportunities for the geological community. In recent years, the museum has also hosted a Trick-or-Treat event for kids. If you think this event sounds like fun, the museum is always looking for help to run the event. Make sure to volunteer for it this upcoming October!
The Mines Museum of Earth and Science renovations are set to conclude on April 18th so be sure to mark your calendars! And if you need to get your geology fix sooner, never fear, the top floor of the museum is still open for business as usual. Admission is free to all and Mines students and faculty receive 10% off the gift shop if they show their Mines ID card (I’m definitely taking advantage of this and going back to get a pretty notebook I saw). So, what are you waiting for? Head on down to the Mines Museum of Earth and Science today and be blown away by their incredible collection!