photo from The Rice Museum website
I promised ya'll a post about rocks...here we go. I spent the month of April in my hometown of Hillsboro, Oregon and I finally learned about the fabulous Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals. How did I not know about this place, before?! I've been a rock-hound since I was a kid so this place gave me the warm fuzzies. This is a heck of a collection...world class!
First let me say that the building itself is rather incredible. Build in 1952 as the Rice family home, it's located on a large, gorgeous piece of wooded property, just off the busy Sunset Highway. I'm sure that, back in the day, it would have been "out in the country." The building is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and was built as the Rice's dream house; designed around their rock collection. They built the basement specifically to house the collection. Mr. Rice was a logger and filled the house with beautiful, rare woods like Oregon myrtlewood. It's really just beautiful inside and very unique.
What you're seeing in this photo is a small section of the museum's master collection, in the basement; fine, fine specimens of precious and semi-precious gemstones. So, let me give you a tour of a few of my favorites...
First of all, The Alma Rose. This is one incredible rock.
It consists of five large rhodochrosite rhombohedron crystals on a matrix of quartz, calcite, sphalerite and tetrahedrite.
This specimen, and The Alma King, were discovered in the 1990's at the Sweet Home mine, in Alma, Colorado.
The Rices purchased The Alma Rose and The Alma King at the Tuscon Gem and Mineral Show in 1933. (A great reason to visit the gem shows...amazing, unique stones! Plus, I'll be teaching there: Art Retreat in the Desert)
The Alma King was sold to the Coors Brewing Company and it now resides in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The Alma Rose was my favorite part of visiting The Rice. It's just a gorgeous thing to behold!
This is a sliced and polished piece of rhodochrosite stalactite...not the prom queen but also pretty spectacular.
Another of my favorites was this lovely variscite. I adore the green of this stone...almost like turquoise, but not quite.
Speaking of...I was surprised to find that these were the only pieces of turquoise in the collection. These three small pieces are from the Bisbee mine and the Sleeping Beauty mine.
And then there was this 111 pound hunk-o-love. This giant piece of lapis, from Afghanistan, was given to Mr. Rice by his daughter, for his birthday. This would make a lotta beads!
Some other goodies: this splendid piece of amazonite with smoky quartz crystals...
...and this sparkly piece of aquamarine. Love aquamarine. Do you not just adore the color of these two stones?
This malachite geode is divine. The photo is not great but the colors are amazing and the inside is a crystal cave.
The structure and color of this quartz specimen made my heart go pitterpatter.
And I love this splendid piece of bubble chalcedony (with some other pretty green stuff). The texture of this was gemmy, gummy...good...very good!
And then there was this wild thing...barite on flourite and sphalerite. Wow...that yellow crystal ball is magnificent. I believe that's the barite. the flourite crystals are, again, loaded with gemmy goodness.
Like garnets? Me too.
Because I love pink, this cuprite specimen drew me in. It's also from the Bisbee mine, in Arizona. The crystals are fine, like hairs. So cool.
My memory is failing me on this one but I believe it's a lab grown sapphire. I was crazy about the color. I seem to have a color obsession. Am I the only one?
The Rice has several galleries and one of my favorites was the mineral gallery where we found many amazing geodes. I didn't get a lot of photos from there but I was pretty taken by this gigantic geode.
It was about the size of an armchair and looked like a knobby, crusty space egg. I'm dying to know what's inside but the thing wasn't cut open. I'll just have to be satisfied imagining.
Some of the most interesting cut geodes were filled with extraordinary, fuzzy, needle crystals. These crystals were so fine they looked like fur. Also, there were quite a few specimens from the Rat's Nest Mine...love that name. Just made you wonder what that place is like.
Petrified wood. Yep. Love petrified wood. The Rice has some sublime pieces and an entire gallery devoted to this amazing stone. These polished slices were hung on the wall like fine art.
This is the fireplace I want, in my house...complete with petrified wood log. The inlaid and polished hearth is spectacular.
One of the really fun features of The Rice Museum is their rock pile. Outside, they have a big pile-o-rocks that you can dig through to your heart's delight. It was raining when we were there, otherwise I would have a whole lot more than this little handful. It's probably a good thing.
Next time your in the neighborhood, make sure you drop by The Rice. If you love rocks, you'll be delighted!