15,000-Square-Foot Gem, Mineral Museum Opens in Maine

SourcingJan 03, 2020

15,000-Square-Foot Gem, Mineral Museum Opens in Maine

It features historic collections, specimens of the state’s gems and one of the foremost collections of meteorites.

The Hall of Gems in the new Maine Mineral & Gem Museum (Photo credit: MMGM/S. Vlaun)
Bethel, Maine—A new museum has opened in western Maine that tells the story of the state’s gems and minerals.

The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum, a 15,000-square-foot, three-floor building several years in the making, officially opened its doors Dec. 12. 

Larry Stifler and Mary McFadden are the husband-and-wife team behind the museum, which stemmed from their passion for conservation.

The two spent decades creating a land trust comprising more than 15,000 acres, including the historic Bumpus Mine, the location of several giant beryl discoveries in the 1920s. 

It was the mine’s legacy that led to the idea of creating a whole museum to honor the state’s gem, mineral and mining history.

Located in a small town called Bethel in the heart of the state’s tourmaline mining region, it houses about 40,000 gems and minerals and 6,000 meteorites. 

This includes one of the world’s foremost meteorite collections, featuring specimens from Mars, the Moon and the Asteroid Belt. 

The museum said it has “more of the Moon than the 10 largest natural history museums in the world combined;” three of the largest pieces of the Moon will be on permanent exhibit at the museum.

The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum also features the Perham Collection, displayed for 90 years at a local mineral store, and, in front of the building, the Arthur M. Hussey Memorial Rock Garden, which educates visitors about Maine’s geology with 22 specimens from around the state.

The oldest known igneous rock in the solar system, 4.56 billion years old, is also housed at the new facility, as are some of the state’s best specimens of tourmaline, beryl and other native gems. 

Highlights include a 1,450-carat smoky quartz—the largest cut gemstone from Maine—and a Tiffany necklace made using Maine tourmaline.

The museum also contains about 250 fossils, nearly 400 mining-related artifacts and some jewelry.

Its library is comprised of 10,000 books, periodicals, maps and recordings; archives from some of the most important figures in Maine mineralogy; a comprehensive collection of historic photographs of mining; and documents about local mining and mineral commerce.

Meanwhile, the MP2 (Mineralogy, Petrology and Pegmatology) Research Group from the University of New Orleans relocated its research facility and instrumentation to the museum. The group will explore the pegmatites of Maine and their minerals.

The on-site laboratory has an electron microprobe, a scanning electron microscope, an X-ray diffractometer and other instruments for advanced mineralogical research. 

Stifler and McFadden assembled a team of veterans and experts to lead the museum, including curator Carl Francis, who was the curator for Harvard’s Mineralogical and Geological Museum, and William Simmons, a prominent pegmatologist. 

The research team includes two cosmochemists, UCLA’S Alan Rubin and Henning Haack, the former curator of meteorites at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. 

The two were brought onto the team by Darryl Pitt, who procured most of the meteorites and is among the world’s leading commercial meteorite consultants.
Stifler and McFadden enlisted the Paulus Design Group, whose clients include the Smithsonian and the National Park Service, and 1220 Exhibits, which is responsible for the displays at the NFL Hall of Fame, to design the museum and its interactive exhibits. 
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

The Latest

Historic and modern photos of diamond grading GIA
GradingMay 26, 2023
State of the Diamond Industry: AI and the Future of Diamond Grading

Gemologists have long used machines in diamond grading but technology has made it possible for them to “learn” how to do it on their own.

Supplier Spotlight Webinar John Pollard and Garry Holloway
Recorded WebinarsMay 26, 2023
Watch: Diamond Cut Quality: The Final Frontier Part 2

Supplier Spotlight Sponsored by IGI

My Next Question webinar series episode on selling lab-grown diamonds
Recorded WebinarsMay 26, 2023
Natural and Lab-Grown Diamonds: What It’s Like to Sell Both

Watch retailers Jeffery Bolling and Bobby Bengivengo discuss employee training, customer education and the sticky subject of future value.

Brought to you by
The Next Step for GIA Diamond Reports

The most trusted diamond report, available in print or the GIA App.

Models wearing Calvin Klein watches and jewelry
FinancialsMay 26, 2023
Movado Sales Slip in Q1 Amid Inflation Woes, Tough Comps

The company has plans to revamp the Movado brand and offer less expensive watches this year.

Weekly QuizMay 25, 2023
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge with this short test.
Take the Quiz
Bulgari necklace set with 118.35-carat unheated Sri Lankan sapphire
AuctionsMay 26, 2023
Piece of the Week: A Bulgari Sapphire and Diamond Necklace

Set with a 118-carat unheated Sri Lankan sapphire, it just sold for $3.4 million at Phillips jewelry auction in Hong Kong.

Supplier BulletinMay 25, 2023
RAE Fine Jewelry Collection Debuting at JCK Luxury 2023

Sponsored by Noam Carver

Brought to you by
Beyond Borders: Crucial Factors in Colored Stone Origin Determination

Navigate origin determination with Continuing Education seminars offered by the GIA Alumni Collective™.

Graphic of phishing scheme
TechnologyMay 25, 2023
State of Retail: Why Jewelers Need to Invest in Cybersecurity Now

As cybercrime incidents threaten the industry, jewelers need to know what they’re up against and the best ways to protect their businesses.

Louis Anthony Jewelers remodeled exterior
IndependentsMay 25, 2023
Louis Anthony Jewelers Is Remodeling and Expanding

The Pittsburgh jeweler is redoing the lighting and showcases, and adding a full hospitality bar as well as new shop-in-shops.

Stanley Zale new principal consultant Hill & Co.
MajorsMay 25, 2023
Stanley Zale Joins Hill & Co. as Principal Consultant

Zale has more than 40 years’ experience in the diamond industry, including 17 years as Stuller’s VP of diamonds and gemstones procurement.

 Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada sign
Events & AwardsMay 24, 2023
New To-Dos in Las Vegas During Jewelry Market Week 2023

The Strip is full of new restaurant and entertainment offerings.

State Property necklace, Briony Raymond two-stone ring, and Emily P. Wheeler earrings
TrendsMay 24, 2023
State of Design: The Jewelry Design Trends to Know Now

National Jeweler’s senior editor covering fashion, trends, and design highlights the latest looks in the market.

A text conversation between a chatbot and a human
EditorsMay 24, 2023
How Jewelers Can Make the Most of ChatGPT

From what ChatGPT is to how to use it, this is the explainer tailored to jewelers.

127-carat Type IIa pear brilliant-cut Light of Peace diamond
AuctionsMay 23, 2023
Christie’s to Auction 127-Carat ‘Light of Peace’ Diamond

The D-color, internally flawless, Type IIa stone will be offered without reserve.

National Jeweler columnist and jewelry sales expert Peter Smith
ColumnistsMay 23, 2023
Squirrel Spotting: The Case of the Pricey Repair

When it comes to pricing jewelry repairs, you should start by asking a simple question about the piece at hand, Peter Smith writes.

Pat Henneberry
IndependentsMay 23, 2023
Pat Henneberry Joins Veer

The industry veteran will serve as the diamond jewelry supplier’s head of business development.

Bruce Rubin Senior Vice President Frederick Goldman
MajorsMay 23, 2023
Bruce Rubin Joins Frederick Goldman

He is the company’s new senior vice president of sales and business development.

MajorsMay 23, 2023
New Approach School for Jewelers Announces Gemvision Partnership

The Tennessee school’s CAD Academy is now offering training in Gemvision’s MatrixGold software.

An International Gemological Institute diamond report
GradingMay 22, 2023
Blackstone Officially Inks Deal to Acquire IGI

Blackstone is buying the 80 percent stake in the lab owned by a Chinese company as well as the 20 percent held by the Lorie family.

De Beers polished diamond in tweezers
SourcingMay 22, 2023
De Beers Consolidates Auctions as Diamond Sales Lose Steam

The company confirmed it will be combining the auctions for the fifth and sixth sales cycles into one.

Belit Myers, Coby Blanchard, Taylor Burgess, Tiffanie Ortis
MajorsMay 22, 2023
Stuller Promotes Four Employees Amid Organizational Update

Among other changes, Stanley Zale, the former vice president of diamonds and gemstones, is leaving the company after 17 years.

2023-2024 American Gem Society International Board of Directors
MajorsMay 22, 2023
AGS Confirms Members of 2023-2024 Board of Directors

One new addition was announced at the Conclave membership breakfast.

JAR Eye bangle Christie’s Geneva
AuctionsMay 19, 2023
It’s a White-Glove Sale for JAR Jewels at Christie’s

The 28-piece collection is the largest to be offered at auction.

An International Gemological Institute diamond grading report
GradingMay 19, 2023
Report: Blackstone to Buy IGI for Up to $550M

The deal could be signed as early as this weekend, according to a report by The Economic Times.

Marie Lichtenberg ruby and diamond check locket
CollectionsMay 19, 2023
Piece of the Week: Marie Lichtenberg’s ‘Check’ Locket

It’s an ultra-luxurious version of the designer’s signature style.

My Next Question episode jewelry trade show preparation
Recorded WebinarsMay 19, 2023
Watch: Tips on Preparing and Packing for Las Vegas

Four guests join Michelle Graff and Amanda Gizzi to discuss the importance of being organized and what shoes they wear at the shows.


This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy