Museum of Natural History reveals designs for new Halls of Gems and Minerals

Posted On Mon, October 16, 2017 By

Posted On Mon, October 16, 2017 By In Design, Upper West Side 

Conceptual rendering of the south entrance to the new Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, from the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites. Visitors will be greeted by 9- and 12-foot amethyst geodes. Courtesy of Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

The giant blue whale and equally massive dinos might get all the glory at the American Museum of Natural History, but a new acquisition is bringing another exhibit into the extra-large club. This morning, the institution unveiled a 12-foot-tall, 9,000+ pound amethyst geode from Uruguay (one of the largest in the world) that will anchor its all-new Halls of Gems and Minerals. Ralph Appelbaum Associates is handling the renovation of the 11,000-square-foot space, which is being designed in anticipation of AMNH’s upcoming $340 million expansion by starchitect Jeanne Gang. The Halls previously ended in a cul-de-sac but the new Halls will feature a “stunning Crystalline Pass” to connect to Studio Gang’s 235,000-square-foot Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation.

The Crystalline Pass on the north side of the halls will connect to the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, the new facility designed by Studio Gang Architects. Courtesy of Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

Conceptual rendering of the new Halls, featuring mineral formation zones that highlight a variety of Earth processes and environments. In the background are the two towering amethyst geodes. Courtesy of Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

Conceptual rendering of a new fluorescence and phosphorescence gallery that will feature a massive panel of fluorescent rock from the Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg, New Jersey. The panel glows in shades of orange and green under ultraviolet light. Courtesy of Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

Conceptual rendering of the gem gallery that will showcase some of the Museum’s most precious gems, including the Star of India (the world’s largest and most famous blue star sapphire) and the 632-carat Patricia Emerald (a rare example of a large, gem-quality emerald to be preserved uncut). Courtesy of Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

According to a press release from the Museum, “With new large-scale specimens, the redesigned exhibits will tell the fascinating story of how approximately 4,500 different types of minerals arose on our dynamic planet, how scientists classify them, and how humans have fashioned them into gems and used them throughout history for personal adornment, tools, and technology.”

© AMNH/D. Finnin

The amethyst geode will temporarily be on view in the Museum’s Grand Gallery (at the 77th Street entrance) through the 2017 holiday season. The Halls of Gems and Minerals, named for long-standing Museum supporters and volunteers Roberto and Allison Mignone, are expected to open in 2019 as part of the Museum’s larger 150th-anniversary celebration. Construction will begin on October 26th, when the current halls close. Watch the video below to see a time-lapse of the geode making its way into its new home.

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Conceptual renderings courtesy of Ralph Appelbaum Associates; Geode images © AMNH/D. Finnin; View of current Halls of Minerals and Gems © AMNH/R. Mickens

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