Saturday, January 29, 2011

UA Mineral Museum selling duplicate minerals to raise $3M at Tucson gem show

Word around the Tucson gem, mineral, and fossil showcase that got underway officially today, is that the University of Arizona Mineral Museum [right, photo credit UA Mineral Museum. These are not the minerals being sold] is selling some of its specimens. John Veevaert at Trinity Mineral Company, mentioned it briefly at the end of a long post on his blog about the show. I got hold of Bob Downs, UA geosciences professor, who also is the UA Mineral Museum director. Bob provided some corrections to Veevaert's post and more detail. I'm posting Bob's response below so as to not mis-state anything:
The state funding to the mineral museum has stopped. So, the museum along with the museum board decided to raise an endowment through the sale of lower quality samples and duplicate samples from its collection of roughly 20,000 pieces. A request for proposals (RFP) was issued by the university, and Dr Marcus Origlieri won the bid to sell on consignment, with 90% return to the museum. His contract currently runs through the mineral show. The endowment was kick started by a $750K gift from Freeport-McMoRan, with the understanding that the museum would raise $3M total. The endowment is earmarked solely for the support of a collections manager position, currently held by Mark Candee, and operations of the museum. Our intent is to ensure funding for the mineral museum without destroying the collection. We will gladly accept donations.

In addition, we currently have a total of $7M of minerals and funding in the form of estate gifts that are promised to the museum if it gets through this difficult time and shows that it is secure for the long term.

[Thanks to Mike at the Louisville Fossils blog, for pointing out the mineralshow post]

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