Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems

quartz 27588Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems showcases a grand new entrance and Wertz Hall of Gems & Jewelry, a new signature exhibit area dedicated to gems, the crystals from which they come, and jewelry comprised of these precious stones. These pieces come from the museum's collection— many which have never been on permanent display—loans from private individuals, gemstone vendors, and traveling exhibitions from other museum collections.

Wertz Gallery: Gems & Jewelry

The new Wertz Gallery: Gems & Jewelry is a 2,000-square-foot addition to Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems dedicated to gems, the crystals from which they come, and jewelry comprised of these precious stones. Wertz Gallery is named in honor of Ronald W. Wertz, longtime president of the Hillman Foundation. The creation of Wertz Gallery is part of the year–long expansion and renovation of Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems, which first opened in 1980, and which presents and exhibits minerals in the manner of sculpture, showing them for their beauty as well as their physical properties and industrial uses.

The original Hillman Hall did display gems and jewelry but often on a temporary basis. The expanded Wertz Gallery gives the collection its own space and many new gems and pieces of jewelry that have never been on exhibit are on display. Approximately 500 gems, crystals, jewelry and other pieces of gem art are on display in the permanent collection of Wertz Gallery. In addition, Wertz Gallery also hosts special exhibitions from collectors around the world.

Unique Brilliance

From table salt to diamond rings and computer chips, minerals are part of our everyday existence. Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems unleashes the spectacular beauty of the mineral world. A jewel box of lush colors, wondrous forms, and striking contrasts, the hall showcases more than 1,300 minerals and gems from all over the world. New acquisitions are added to the collection on an ongoing basis. This breathtaking exhibition hall is the culmination of the science, beauty, and history of minerals.

Exhibit Highlights

amberThe Systematic Collection in the hall displays over 400 beautiful specimens divided into their chemical classification. Displays on quartz, calcite, pseudomorphism, twinning, mineral locality suites, and lithology (the science of rocks) add to the educational and visual experience. The nearly 100 stunning specimens on display in Masterpiece Gallery illustrate an underlying premise of the hall: "Minerals as Art." Our Collection Highlights case is dedicated as a "changing exhibit" to feature new acquisitions or an interesting theme in minerals.

Local Interest

Pennsylvania's mineralogical diversity is the subject of another group of exhibitions. This section presents information on coal and other minerals that have been important to the state's economic development. Some of the finest minerals found in Pennsylvania are exhibited. The story of the Pittsburgh steel industry is told in the exhibit "The Minerals That Made Pittsburgh."

Many specimens from the collection of W. W. Jefferis, a nineteenth century mineral collector from West Chester, Pennsylvania, are on exhibit throughout the hall. See how his collection impacted our exhibitions in the History of Hillman Hall.

Exhibit Interactives

  • Watch and listen as a Geiger counter measures the level of radioactivity, the property of some materials to emit radiation in the form of energy and subatomic particles, in four sample minerals.
  • Step into the Fluorescence and Phosphorescence Room to witness how ultraviolet radiation causes minerals to glow with different colors and listen to the audio guide that directs the amazing light show.
  • See the miniature world of minerals as a microscope examines a number of samples, or touch a gigantic piece of "float" copper.
  • Watch and listen as the formation of Igneous, Sedimentary, and Metamorphic rocks is explained.

Exhibit Extra

See more of this amazing hall in the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems exhibit extra.

Did You Know?

Hillman Hall has gained an international reputation as one of the finest and most important mineral exhibitions in the country. The current collection is built around private collections purchased or donated over the museum's history.

Every year since 1987, the Carnegie Mineralogical Award is given to an individual or group to honor their outstanding contributions in mineralogical preservation, conservation, and education that match ideals advanced in Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems.

There is a permanent birthstone exhibit in Wertz Gallery: Gems & Jewelry, an expansion of Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems which opened on September 28, 2007.

Only eight meteorites have been found in Pennsylvania—five iron meteorites and three stony meteorites. In 1988 portions of all eight were displayed together for the first time in Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems.

For More Info

Head, Section of Minerals: Marc Wilson; Collections Assistant: Debra Wilson 412.622.3391, WilsonM@carnegiemnh.org.