One of the most unique exhibitions in Socorro is the Mineral Museum in the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources building on the New Mexico Tech campus. The museum is a rock hound’s dream and features more than 15,000 specimens, with a special emphasis on minerals found in New Mexico.
Highlights include a collection of gold, silver and precious gems; smithsonite from the Kelly Mine at Magdalena; and a stunning ultraviolet mineral exhibit.
Historic tools and equipment used in the mining industry throughout time are displayed in the main gallery. Other exhibits include meteorites, fossils and thematic displays illustrating the mineral wealth from the Las Cruces, Silver City, Bingham, Magdalena, Golden, Dixon and Grants areas.
A variety of specimens are available for purchase; proceeds from the sales are used to purchase new materials for the museum.
In addition to the display gallery, the Mineral Museum maintains a large reference collection for scientific research. Access to the reference collection can be arranged by contacting the museum curator, mineralogist Dr. Virgil Lueth.
Two annual events — the New Mexico Mineral Symposium and the Mining Artifact Collectors Association Symposium — are great forums for both professionals and amateurs interested in mineralogy.
The museum, located off Olive Lane in the Gold Building at New Mexico Tech, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekends.
A new Bureau of Geology building, boasting an improved Mineral Museum, is being built at the corner of Bullock Avenue and Leroy Place, and is scheduled to be open in March 2015.
For more information, call 575-835-5420 or visit geoinfo.nmt.edu/museum.