|Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems
Hillman Hall Today
twelve years after the opening of Hillman Hall, Marc Wilson took over
the management of Hillman Hall. Under Wilson’s stewardship and
with the continued support of The Hillman Foundation, the museum’s
century-old mineral collection has blossomed. New exhibits have been
developed and specimens upgraded to include an abundance of world-class
minerals and gems.
the hall’s improvements since Wilson’s arrival is
the complete makeover of the Pennsylvania Minerals exhibit. Obtaining
the best available Pennsylvania specimens has long been a goal
of the Section of Minerals and this exhibit represents the roots
of the Carnegie’s mineral collection. The exhibit currently
displays specimens from the Bryon Brookmyer collection, on loan
to the museum.
Amber was added to the gemstones section. Beautiful as well as
educational, the exhibit shows the two types of amber–succinite
and retinite. Also included are two types of a common amber substitute,
copal. Amber and copal are shown in their rough forms, and as
freeform polished specimens and jewelry. Insects embedded in amber
demonstrate how life forms become fossilized in the resin.
The evolving nature
of the hall was evident in late October 1996, when Wilson unveiled
a new exhibit of Pseudomorphism in Minerals. One example is the museum’s
first world-class mineral, accessioned in 1897—pseudomorph of
hemimorphite after calcite, now on display in Masterpiece Gallery.
Over the past century, this pseudomorph has not been surpassed, and
it remains perhaps the most significant specimen in the collection.
addition to Hillman Hall occurred in 1997 with the opening of
the Minerals of the Former Soviet Union exhibit—some 30
spectacular minerals from the recently acquired collection of
250 high-quality specimens. Minerals from the former Soviet Union
have only recently begun entering western collections as a result
of the fall of Communism.
Micromineral exhibit, installed in 1999, utilizes a microscope
to give the viewer a closer look at minerals not easily seen with
the naked eye. This innovative technique makes it possible to
display minerals that would otherwise never be viewed by the public.
year 2000 brought two renovations to Hillman Hall exhibits. The
Fluorescence and Phosphorescence exhibit received spectacular
new specimens and presentation to show how minerals “glow”
under ultraviolet light. The Twinning in Minerals exhibit uses
beautiful minerals to show how crystals can become twinned.
year 2002 saw the unveiling of the Quartz exhibit. Because quartz,
the most common mineral on earth, can be classified as a silicate
or an oxide, it was decided to take all quartz specimens out of
the Systematic Collection and create an exhibit of its own. This
display features specimens of quartz with diverse colors, crystal
habits and inclusions from localities around the world.
2002 the Museum received a donation of a mineral collection
from James E.
Moresby White, a Pittsburgh resident who had been
collecting since the 1950s.
proposal was made in May of 2004 to expand and improve Hillman
and in 2006 the renovations and expansion project began. Many changes
were made to the hall including both additions of and removal of
Most of the jewelry and gemstones were taken off exhibit for use
in their home of Wertz Gallery: Gems and Jewelry. This
of Hillman Hall opened in September 2007 and includes an additional 2,000 square feet of exhibition space dedicated to gems, the crystals from which they come, and jewelry comprised of these precious stones.
Hall reopened in June 2007, it no longer contained an exhibit
on meteorites, but visitors can enjoy improved exhibits on Lithology
an expanded Masterpiece Gallery and new exhibits on locality
complement the already existing exhibit on the Former
Soviet Union. These suites feature minerals from England, Romania, India, and Bulgaria.
A beautiful new entrance greets visitors with stunning specimens
as they enter and exit the
hall. Also displayed near the entrance are “Mineral Slices,” backlit slabs of beautifully colored minerals and crystals. Look
many of your favorite exhibits which will still grace the hall
such as the Systematic Collection, Quartz, Twinning,
Fluorescence & Phosphorescence, Pseudormorphism, Radioactivity, and
Still on the drawing
board are plans for a computer station in the hall to give visitors
access to complete information on any specimen on exhibit. Under Marc
Wilson’s expert guidance, Hillman Hall will continue to develop
to meet the interests and needs of its visitors. Your support in the
form of donations, whether monetary or specimens, is always appreciated
and helpful in our continuing effort to keep Hillman Hall of Minerals
and Gems one of the finest mineral exhibits in existence.